Transit advocates make their case to Dayton

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Gov. Mark Dayton held a forum this afternoon to highlight the impact of the cuts to transit programs by Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature.

House Republicans are proposing a $120 million cut over the next two years to transit services. Senate Republicans would cut $32 million.

“I’ve been on the bus riding since we had a 50 cent fare,” said Kathleen Murphy of Richfield. “And it’s rapidly just continuing and continuing and continuing. People can holler about that the gas prices are going up but the gas prices come down. The fare increases go up but the fare increases never come down.”

Everyone who spoke at the event opposed the GOP cuts to transit funding. The group Transit for Livable Communities dropped off several thousand postcard petitions to urge Dayton and the Legislature to preserve funding for transit.

This is the fourth roundtable discussion that Dayton has held and the second this week to highlight the impact of Republican budget cuts. After today’s event, Dayton wouldn’t say whether he would veto the transportation budget bills if they reached his desk. But he said he has deep concerns over the level of cuts.

“With gasoline prices and ridership increasing, this is a time to expand our transit ridership, not to cut it back,” Dayton said. “And certainly not to make it unaffordable.”

Dayton is proposing an income tax increase to help erase the state’s $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans say they can balance the budget by holding down spending.

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