DFL lawmakers protested Republican efforts to cut transit and halt Southwest Light Rail.
They, along with community leaders called out what they say is inadequate funding in the Republican plan, and expressed how it will harm Minnesotans who rely on transit for school, work, and daily life.
“The transit cuts in the Republican bill will seriously affect our ability to move forward as a region,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL – Minneapolis). “People can’t get to their jobs, doctor appointments, school and other every day activities. We need a transportation bill that works for everyone.”
According to DFL leaders, the Republican plan would harm transit by cutting service to core cities by 10 percent and creating a $35 million Met Council transit funding deficit. They say Republicans want to abolish the Counties Transit Improvement Board and ban construction of South West (SWLRT) and Bottineau light rail lines.
“Instead of working together to use our surplus wisely and lift up the economy of our entire state, Republicans are making it clear that they want to punish the economies of our major cities and Minnesota as a whole,” said Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL – Hopkins). “Halting Southwest Light Rail is a continued political game that is costing Minnesotans time and money.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL – Minneapolis) spoke to the harm bus service cuts would impose on students and seniors in her district around the University of Minnesota campus.
“Thousands of residents of my community depend on transit every day. These are people who create economic investment and opportunity here in Minnesota. They come from all backgrounds and all walks of life,” said Omar. “These Minnesotans don’t depend on transit for entertainment or fun, they depend on transit to get to school, to get to work, and to live their daily lives.”
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – St. Paul) asked Republican lawmakers to get serious about funding transit to match their commitment to reducing racial economic disparities in Minnesota.
“If we want all Minnesotans to be economically successful, we can’t take away the services they rely on to get to work and school every day,” said Moran. “Transit is part of what makes a community vibrant and successful.”
Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL – Crystal) also noted that light rail and bus service are broadly supported in his northwest metro district.
“The DFL position is fairness and equity for transit funding in every community. My neighbors know that the Bottineau LRT line and good bus service will enhance our communities and make us stronger,” said Rep. Carlson. “As we expect our population to increase in the next 25 years, we know that new residents want good transit, and that building our highways out to handle 800,000 new cars would be impossible.”
DFL lawmakers say with a $1.65 billion budget surplus, cutting transit is the wrong choice.