Senators threaten to withhold bonding bill votes over light rail funding


Seven DFL state senators are threatening to withhold their support of a bonding bill if the $135 million in state funding for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project isn't included.

In a letter addressed to Sen. Leroy Stumpf, a Democrat from Plummer who is also the chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, the legislators said that without state funding this year, the project is in danger of losing federal funds, which would spell disaster for the project.

"We want to let you know that we will not vote for a bonding bill that does not contain SWLRT funding unless that funding is already secured in another part of the legislative process," the letter said. "It does not matter to us if that funding is in the bonding bill, part of the transportation bill in cash ... or some other source, as long as it is guaranteed as part of the final legislative session agreements."

If the state provides $135 million in funding, the project qualifies for $895 million in federal funding.

This is the most recent episode in the life of SWLRT project, which has seen its share of controversy.

The project, which has been planned for nearly a decade, has been the subject of legal action, escalating costs and delayed timelines and has been blocked by Republican lawmakers.

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