Jeramey Jannene

State Assembly to Vote on RTA Bill

By - Apr 19th, 2010 11:58 am
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The wait is over, the Wisconsin State Assembly is set to vote on Assembly Bill 282 on Tuesday. AB282 is the latest proposal for a regional transit solution for southeastern Wisconsin, containing a funding solution for the bus systems of Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee County, as well as provisions to allow planning to go forward for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Commuter Rail system.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a breakdown of the bill that the full Assembly will take action on on Tuesday after it was passed by the Assembly Transportation Committee with bipartisan support. A bit more complex than the proposal put forth in the Governor’s Executive Budget, AB282 would allow the transit authority to levy up to a 0.5% sales tax for transit in Milwaukee County (because of the previous advisory referendum), as well as allowing Kenosha and Racine counties to hold referendums to enact a sales tax to fund their systems. The bill puts in place a requirement to eliminate the property tax funding of transit with the addition of another funding source, reducing the property tax burden on Milwaukee County residents (and down the road Kenosha and Racine residents).

This is a make or break vote for the Milwaukee County Transit System and regional transit. As we’ve stated before, Milwaukee transit should be regionally managed and must be funded with a dedicated funding source. If the bill doesn’t pass, the Milwaukee County Transit System is in for a large number of service cuts and fare increases due to unmet capital needs and Milwaukee County’s ongoing budget woes. The stimulus package spared the system significant pains for one year (fares still went up 25 cents) by granting the money to purchase 90 new buses that will arrive this summer, but that won’t happen again. The region is staring down a cliff, and it would be a real shame to drive off the edge.

The bill has the support of the business community, Governor Jim Doyle, Milwaukee County voters via referendum, and there are adequate provisions for Kenosha and Racine voters to join when they are ready. Please give your State Assembly Representative a call, and let them know you want them to vote for AB282.

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