On Tuesday, the Senate passed a Met Council "Reform" Which created staggered terms for the council members. On Wednesday, the House brought an offer to the Transportation Omnibus Bill Conference Committee, which included "Met Council Reform" as part of a compromise. This version of reform included the staggered terms as well as having members be elected local government officials. We are the record for not being fans of this proposal. Here's why.
We don’t need to establish further and legitimize the independence of the Met Council. We need to reduce its size, scope and power.
When will the legislature wake up and understand that the Met Council, the very idea of it, is an attempt to replace the legislature?
How is that you ask? By taking away its control over local government and giving the executive branch a tool to control economic development in the state.
That means that economic development will occur by whatever ideological framework the current occupant of the Governor's office happens to subscribe to.
Besides its ability to autonomously borrow for projects, The Met Council has its own taxing authority, and it can enlist the aid of the Federal government independently in all of its schemes.
If Republicans fall for an “opportunity for reform” they will be giving away a couple of significant advantages to serious Met Council reform later. One is that the Federal Government has been insisting for a while that Minnesota’s Met Council stop being the only example of an entity that controls where federal transportation dollars go without having a board of elected members. So there is some pressure to do something anyway. Secondly, if you are at all interested in reducing the size and scope of the Met Council, do you think it will be easier or harder once it has elected members with various constituencies? We can’t think of very many government institutions which are willing give up power can you? Do you think it will be easier or harder for a reform-minded governor to propose changes to the met council if half the council was appointed by his or her predecessor? It would go from being independent to being completely unaccountable.
We can’t think of very many government institutions which are willing give up power can you? Some of the very people proposing this de minumus proposal are the least likely to seek serious reform along the lines that we want later.
Hopefully, the people proposing this will think carefully and realize that it is not an even “trade” for something like a gas tax increase or a transit tax increase.