Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a transportation bill Monday that would have slashed funding for Metro Transit bus and rail services by $17.5 million over the next two years.
Transit riders and operators cheered the governor’s veto at a rally outside the Capitol Tuesday, urging Dayton to continue standing firm against service cuts and fare hikes.
Doni Jones, a steward for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said cuts proposed by Republican majorities in the Legislature would “devastate” the 3,000 Metro Transit employees who make up the union’s membership. Part-time employees would be laid off, he said, and full-time workers would see hours reduced.
In a letter to Republican leaders that accompanied his veto, Dayton said he would not sign a transportation bill that cut Metro Transit funding.
“Our transit system is vital to the economic health and competitiveness of the metro region and the state as a whole,” Dayton said, adding that 80 percent of people who access Metro Transit services are traveling to and from work or school.
Dayton told Republican leaders: “Your failure to adequately fund our transit system will have real life consequences for our seniors, students, low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities.”
Many of those people joined the rally yesterday, a scene Jones described as a “beautiful thing.”
“We see these people all the time,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”
The Minnesota Legislature convened Jan. 3 with an agenda including the state budget and longstanding issues such as transportation and health care.