“House and Senate Republicans have aggressively attacked transit riders this year, taking aim at those people who we should be reaching out to the most – students who depend on transit to get to class; seniors who can no longer drive but want to stay active in their communities; young people who cannot afford to, or simply don’t want to be forced into car ownership; Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on transit to get where they need to go; and people who need transit because they would otherwise not be able to get to work.
Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, and Representative Cheryl Youakim, DFL-Hopkins, with seventy-one legislators across the state, penned a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao supporting the Federal New Starts program which provides funding for transit projects nationwide, including SW LRT. Continued Federal support is critical to the region’s future economic success, traffic congestion reductions, and mobility increases.
Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) is calling out Senate Republicans for not being transparent in the unveiling of their transportation budget last week. The $400 million bill is funded through a shift from the state’s general fund from auto-related sales taxes and borrows $325 million in bonding. Additionally, the bill includes no funding for transit and even creates a provision to act as a roadblock to any transit projects currently in the works, Sen. Hoffman says that puts transit options in the northwest suburbs in jeopardy.
Long-time champion of sustainable transportation and the Gateway Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit Project, Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) is happy to announce the inclusion of the project in the Senate’s $1.5 billion Bonding Bill. Sen. Kent authored the $3 million project request for Washington County to help with the state’s share of engineering and environmental analysis to move the bus rapid transit project into its next phase.
The Governor’s indication today that he will not support anything less than a sufficient transportation funding package that serves all Minnesotans is good news. A comprehensive bill that makes sure everyone has access to opportunities, regardless of the circumstances of their lives, is vital. The Senate, House, and Governor seem to agree on the need for long-term transportation funding and I am eager to work toward a solution in conference committee.
The Senate Transportation Budget article passed on Thursday makes a commitment to public safety and opens the door to long-term, sustainable transportation funding for Minnesota. The initiatives in the bill work to make Minnesotans safer from trains carrying hazardous substances, and supports the state’s first responders in emergency preparedness. The new funding also provides a critical investment for the State Patrol so they can continue to train the best law enforcement professionals in the state.