The Legislature has a new bonding bill headed for the House floor, but it has once again passed over a $25 million request for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.
On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a $443.9 million bonding bill on a voice vote, which that only contained enough to restore the state Capitol.
But even though the latest bonding proposal is bigger, it does not contain the $25 million that is to be part of a $125 million total state contribution to the project. Federal money and county funds that are required to be spent on transit would match that, including a federal share of $625 million.
Rail advocates say a state commitment is necessary to assure the federal government that Minnesota is on board. Failure to set aside the money could put the project behind others across the country. But some opponents are wary about putting state money on the line without federal commitments, while others say the transportation money would be better spent on roads and buses than rail.
The new bonding bill does include $50 million for local road improvements and $50 million for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation.