SAINT PAUL, Minn – State Senator Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, released the following statement after the Republican response to the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s Transit Financial Activity Review through June 30, 2017:
“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.
“A simple reading of the report makes it clear that the alleged discrepancy Republicans claim is comparing apples to oranges. The state budget request – submitted in February 2017 – offers funding projections for the next four years. This request was submitted before the June 2017 dissolution of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, which dramatically changed the landscape of funding for transit in the metro area, especially for Southwest Light Rail Transit. The federal financial management plan submitted at the end of June 2017 provided a look back at ten previous years of funding, and 20 years of projected funding, with substantial changes to reflect the negative outcomes of the 2017 session and Hennepin County picking up the tab for funding failures at the state level.
“When the people of the Minnesota, already lacking in adequate mobility, start suffering the draconian consequences of a system being literally dismantled because of deeply vicious cuts at the hands of the GOP, Republican leaders will be held to account and won’t be able to hide behind bureaucratic obfuscation. Comparing a two-year budget request for the entire transit system (which itself was based on circumstances that later changed) to a totally different matter, focused on a different timeline as part of a funding request for a single project, is just another dirty trick, trying to bob and weave and cast blame on others for their successful push to divide our state and to drastically reduce transit service.”