State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, expressed his grave concern that the budget being advanced by the Senate Transportation Committee will seriously undermine Minnesota’s transit services, threatening people’s livelihoods, and delivering a blow to seniors and the disabled. The Republican proposal includes an $8 million cut to Greater Minnesota Transit and $32 million cut to Metro Transit—slashing these providers’ General Fund support by 25 percent and more.
“In his proposed budget, Gov. Dayton recognized that in light of recent past cuts, more reductions to transit from the workers and senior citizens who depend on this service to carry out their daily lives would be devastating, so issued no cuts to these areas. On the contrary, the Senate Majority has targeted workers, the low-income and elderly with their transportation cuts,” said Sen. Dibble.
Sen. Dibble, the DFL lead on the Senate Transportation Committee, noted that the cuts to Greater Minnesota Transit would fall disproportionately higher on regional hubs and small Greater Minnesota cities.
“Senate shifts the majority of the transit reductions to regional hubs like Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead, and Duluth and small cities like Northfield, Winona, and Mankato. If this bill goes into effect, workers won’t get to their jobs, seniors will no longer be able to live in their homes.”
Sen. Dibble also explained that Republicans’ bill requiring $10 million in fare increases each year will devastate family budgets and force many to forgo using transit, resulting in the loss of millions of rides annually.
“This proposal ties the hand of the Met Council, forcing them to raid property taxes and, for the first time by law, increase fares and to make up for the steep state cuts to transit,” said Sen. Dibble. “Our region already has some of the highest fares in the nation. This exorbitant jump will simply push many workers who are just hanging on in this economy over the edge.”
Most troubling is the impact these cuts will have on keeping the Twin Cities an attractive, competitive metropolitan area, and Greater Minnesota a welcoming place for all. Past Met Council Chair Peter Bell, a Republican, himself recently said publicly, “I don’t know one world-class region on the planet that doesn’t have a world-class transit system.”
In addition to the transit cuts, the Senate Transportation budget eliminates all funding for Mn/DOT’s Passenger Rail office.
“Why would we de-fund our passenger rail efforts just at a key moment when Minnesota can capitalize on significant federal investments to start down the path of building a 21st Century high speed rail system connecting our major cities,” said Sen. Dibble. “USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood has told Gov. Dayton and Mn/DOT Commissioner Tom Sorel that Minnesota is well-positioned to compete for future federal funds, including the $2.4 billion recently rejected by the state of Florida. Eliminating the Passenger Rail Office would seriously jeopardize our chances to bring on these dollars to Minnesota.”
The Senate Transportation Committee began considering the bill on Tuesday, March 22 and a final vote will be taken on Thursday, March 24.
For more information, you may contact Sen. Dibble’s office at (651) 296-4191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.