Debate Over Earmarks Looms in Transportation Funding Fight
ST. PAUL (AP) -- There's another debate brewing in the fight for road and bridge repair funding: Who should pick which projects get the money?
That responsibility has typically fallen to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. But, Republican-controlled Legislature is advancing bills that specifically select some projects.
A department list shows $1,000,000 in so-called earmarks in the House transportation budget. The Senate's funding package has more than $100,000,000 in earmarks.
Republican Senator Scott Newman says the state has neglected some critical needs in its project selection process like repairs to U.S. Highway 12 in western suburbs, where safety issues have mounted.
Transportation commissioner Charlie Zelle says the Legislature's meddling can cause problems if they pick projects that aren't ready to begin.