Dibble Responds to Senate Republican Transportation Proposal
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Upon the release of the Senate Republican proposal for transportation funding for the biennium, Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL- Minneapolis) released the following statement:
“$117 million per year for state roads sounds like a lot of money. But compared to the more than $250 million Minnesota needs just to keep up with maintenance needs on the state highway system, it means potholes, aging bridges, and too few snowplow drivers will continue to win out should the Senate Republicans be able to pass their transportation plan.
“Don’t be fooled. The only “new money” in the Republican plan is the diversion of $200 million per year of existing general fund dollars. Those funds currently pay for educating children, caring for the elderly, property tax relief and other things important to Minnesotans. The next legislature that has to contend with a difficult economy and declining revenues will immediately yank those funds right out of transportation. It has happened before. A bridge can wait. A child in kindergarten cannot. Rhetoric about a so-called 10-year plan is wishful thinking at best.
“Every other dollar the Republican transportation plan tries to take credit for is a dollar already accounted for in the transportation budget. Federal dollars flow to Minnesota automatically. Efficiencies at MnDOT are already occurring, with those savings being redirected to road construction. Redirecting “flex spending” is just robbing resources that go to counties for highway needs. $300 million in bonding is simply borrowing (and paying back, with interest) from existing funds.
“The $3.6 billion over 10 years claimed by the GOP Senate falls well within the definition of “alternative facts.” It simply is not true.
“Not one nickel goes to transit, either in the Metropolitan area or in Greater Minnesota. That means people won’t be able to get to jobs, seniors will be forced to move to nursing homes before they need to, people with disabilities will be trapped in their homes, and students won’t be able to get to school. Metro Transit faces a $90 million deficit in the coming biennium. $24 million of that deficit affects Metro Mobility rides for the elderly and people with disabilities. The sheer heartlessness of the Republican plan is shocking. With 800,000 people moving to the Twin Cities in the near future, we could never build enough roads to handle all of that new traffic – not that the Republican proposal even builds roads.
“I look forward to working with the majority party Republicans on developing a real plan for all Minnesotans that will build and sustain prosperity for all. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to pull out a new, blank sheet of paper and start over – maybe this time with the idea that all Minnesotans can be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”