The Minnesota legislature’s attempt to defund public transportation is a much bigger deal than people allow themselves to believe; it is a giant step backward. If this effort is not vigorously resisted it will open the door for more budget cuts and more backwardness like the preemptive movement and the attempt to cut funding for the State Human Rights Department.
But, we have an opportunity to stop the effort in its tracks and, at the very least, tell the right wing section of the ruling class that we are willing and ready to stand up and fight back, so to speak. History has shown that those who refuse to defend their gains will keep getting pushed until they realize they can push back.
Why is it important to stop this backwards effort to inhibit the efforts of regular working class folks to get to work and school? If you are a person of color it’s particularly important because it would have a potentially drastic effect on communities of color. In Minnesota, people of color are about four times more likely than Whites to use public transportation to get to work.
Once those in power become successful in taking away civil or public gains, it will take a herculean effort to get it back. If we continue to retreat, until the system is broken, the power structure will start pushing for privatization. If they are successful at sabotaging the present public transit system, they will claim the private sector can do a better job of providing transportation.
Ultimately, this amounts to a dis-investment; it’s the Robin Hood phenomenon in reverse. The money is there, $1.6 billion to be exact.
Ironically, it is money collected from all of us. But our representatives, while saying they want to give tax breaks, are being disingenuous, they don’t mean tax breaks for working Minnesotans, they are looking to give our money to Big Business, under the guise of tax breaks for all.
Make no mistake, if the people who are affected don’t take this seriously there will be negative consequences. Everywhere bus and transit is being cut, or fares are being significantly hiked, there will be an immediate and detrimental impact. If transit becomes unaffordable, people lose jobs, others stop depending on transit and become more reliant on automobiles, that means traffic congestion and increased pollution.
The bottom line: Transportation isn’t just about reaching destinations, it’s about reaching opportunity. It’s about dignity and self-determination and self-fulfillment.
Don’t let them take it away.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.