Open Forum: Minnesota's transportation cuts | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Open Forum: Minnesota's transportation cuts

Posted: May 27, 2011 - 7:46pm

 As our state continues to struggle, our economic recovery depends on people getting to work, getting to school, getting services they need to remain independent and healthy.  Minnesota’s transit system gets people where they need to go.

As the governor and Legislature work to reach a deal on a new budget for the coming biennium, it1s important to understand the impact budget cuts could have on Minnesota residents. The legislature passed and the governor vetoed a transportation budget that severely cuts funding for transit just when people need it most. With gas hitting $4 per gallon and so many families having a hard time making ends meet, affordable, convenient public transit service is essential. Owning and operating a car can easily cost around $9,000 per year.

 With the cuts proposed by the legislature, transit service would need to be cut significantly and transit industry workers laid off. The state should be doing what it can to create jobs, not cut them while making it more difficult for people to get to work. In addition, transit fares would need to be  increased — a cost that many people, especially those on fixed incomes, can’t afford.

For folks in greater Minnesota, the legislature’s cut to transit funding of  almost $8 million dollars could mean the loss of over 100,000 hours of service, according to Mn/DOT officials. That’s the same as completely eliminating the transit systems in five small cities and five rural counties, leaving all of those residents with no alternative to driving.  With an aging population and many community members who simply can’t drive, this would lead to increased isolation and increased social costs.

Minnesota used to pride itself on being a leader in the Midwest. Our economy will continue to struggle if we gut our transit systems just when people need them most.

Tony Kellen

Foley