A Metro Transit Green Line light rail transit car. Regina McCombs | MPR News

The agency that operates the Twin Cities mass transit system will move ahead with a new financing plan for the imperiled Southwest Corridor light rail project, bypassing the Legislature for now given deep-rooted Republican resistance to the route.

Adam Duininck, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, will seek approval as early as next week to committing the board to more than $90 million in borrowing.

Additionally, the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority and the Counties Transportation Improvement Boards would have to consent to $20.5 million each in additional contributions.

The three sources would cover the remaining local share needed to unlock federal money toward half of the $1.8 billion line.

“I want to be very clear about this: These are bad options,” Duininck said. “If there is not a state solution that occurs at the legislative level, the only options available to us are bad options. There are challenges for our agency and certainly it is a question of going back to funders who have already given a lot to this project.”

The alternative, he said, is to wind the project down beginning next week because it would run out of cash by October and the federal money would be in jeopardy.

Gov. Mark Dayton blessed the arrangement after a nearly three hour forum he convened to discuss the 14-mile line that would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

“I believe this project is in the best interest of the metropolitan region, I believe it is in the best interest of Minnesota, and I believe it is very important that it go forward,” Dayton said.

All three partners in the latest funding equation would have to hold hearings and approve the added spending. The goal is to have that happen within days.

There were still unanswered questions about the financing model, which was developed during intense private discussions this week. One concern is whether ongoing litigation over the Southwest line could make the Met Council borrowing plan hard to pull off.

Republican legislators who attended the forum criticized the move as a power play. State Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said lawmakers were under the belief the Met Council wouldn’t go this route.

“I think that we are visiting and witnessing an end-run on the legislative process,” Albright said.

Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, said much of the maneuvering around Southwest  light rail has been questionable.

“We have deep concerns. We feel the process has been flawed,” she said. “We feel that the project, at the exorbitant cost that it is, is one that merits a lot of questions.”

The envisioned borrowing, through a mechanism known as certificates of participation, wouldn’t formally require the Met Council to issue the debt until next summer.

That would leave open the possibility the 2017 Legislature could revisit the funding question. But it would tie up the funds because the Met Council wouldn’t be able to allocate the anticipated debt costs toward other projects.

The Southwest issue was among the major obstacles to a special session where the Legislature would also take up packages for tax relief and general construction borrowing. Both fell short of becoming law during the Legislature’s regular session.

The forum itself covered familiar ground on both sides of the light rail controversy.

Opponents of the line highlighted their objection to both the route through the Chain of Lakes, the cost and the elevation of fixed rail over more flexible bus routes. Supporters stressed that Southwest would connect people on both ends of the line with employment and alleviate some car congestion.

In a move that would not ordinarily qualify as news, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office on Thursday listed Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the November ballot as the Republican candidates for president and vice president.

The only reason it’s worth noting is that former Republican state senate staffer Michael Brodkorb raised an alert on Twitter Wednesday night about whether the Republican Party of Minnesota followed the proper procedure in electing alternate electors back at congressional district conventions — a necessary step to get Trump on the ballot.

But at the Minnesota State Fair Thursday, Republican Party Chair Keith Downey said Brodkorb was mistaken.

He acknowledged that party officials thought they had done everything they needed to several weeks ago, but when they discovered the issue involving the alternate electors they left it to the state executive committee to fix.

“Our state constitution says that your executive committee can do what it needs to do to get the electors all organized, so they are,” Downey said.

The executive committee met Wednesday night, Downey said and sent paperwork to the secretary of state’s office Thursday morning.

“People can make a big deal out of it if they want,” Downey said. “The deadline is the 29th.”

Good morning and welcome to Thursday. A lot has been happening in Minnesota over the past 24 hours, so let’s go to the Digest.

1.  Gov. Mark Dayton holds a public meeting today with supporters of the Southwest Light Rail Transit line to look for options to pay the $135 million local share of the project’s cost. It was the sticking point in the now-abandoned talks over a possible special session, and the head of the Metropolitan Council says if a funding alternative isn’t found by the end of August the whole project may be scrapped. (MPR News)

2. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says the inability of the governor and the Legislature to agree on a tax bill will have big budget implications for the capital city. Without aid from the state, the  mayor says the city will have to increase property taxes or lay off police officers, close rec centers and reduce library hours.  The city had been counting on $3 million in aid from the state in 2017. (Pioneer Press)

3. The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear the appeal of the decision to put a $15 per hour minimum wage question on the ballot in Minneapolis in November. As it stands now city voters will be asked to decide the question. But the city will ask the high court to overturn that. (Star Tribune)

4. Whose polls should you believe? Usually I tend to ignore the ones campaigns release, especially when they show their candidate is way ahead. I figure they’re designed to impress donors and motivate supporters. Here are two polls from two opposing campaigns that show dramatically different snapshots of what the voters are saying in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. (Pioneer Press)

5. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing back hard against criticism of the Clinton Foundation, and especially against an Associated Press piece that analyzed meetings Clinton had with foundation donors while she was secretary of state. The say the report was misleading and based on faulty numbers. (Politico)