Turn down ambiguous amendment
The motor vehicle sales tax constitutional amendment on the Minnesota ballot constitutes a promise that can't possibly be kept. Moreover, distribution of road tax dollars should be a legislative responsibility, not an amendment to the state's Con...
The motor vehicle sales tax constitutional amendment on the Minnesota ballot constitutes a promise that can't possibly be kept. Moreover, distribution of road tax dollars should be a legislative responsibility, not an amendment to the state's Constitution.
The language of the amendment is ambiguous. The wording suggests that 60 percent of revenues from motor vehicle taxes would be spent for highways. The remaining 40 percent, the wording indicates, would go to public transit, such as bus lanes and commuter rail. But the actual language says "not more than 60 percent" for roads. "Not more than" can mean less than. On the other hand, the language governing the 40 percent for transit is "not less than 40 percent," which clearly means what it says. In the extreme, the amendment could be construed to mean that all vehicle tax revenue was available for transit in the metro, and none was available for roads and bridges in Greater Minnesota.
It's no wonder the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the organization that represents most outstate cities, opposes the amendment. Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland is among dozens of city officials leading opposition to the measure. The Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead also opposes the measure because the language constitutes a threat to future funding of roads in northwest Minnesota.
It's also revealing that the ambiguity in the final ballot language came only after clear language approved by both houses of the Legislature was changed in a committee.
The constitutional factor should not be minimized. Amending the state Constitution should not be done cavalierly. Motor vehicle revenues and a transportation formula are legislative matters that should be subject to debate and discussion by lawmakers. Vote NO.
(This piece is a Forum Communications editorial run with support from the New York Mills Herald.)