Jeramey Jannene

RTA Will Be a Last Minute Decision

By - Apr 21st, 2010 12:21 pm
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The vote on the future of regional transit that was scheduled for a Tuesday vote the Wisconsin State Assembly didn’t actually happen, but a lot of small actions leading up to it did. Starting at 3:43 A.M. on Wednesday, April 21st, the Wisconsin State Assembly finally reached AB282 (which was intentionally moved to the end of their agenda around midnight when they started the session). The Assembly took up consideration of 18 amendments, most of which were tabled in motions led by bill supporter Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). The sponsor of the tabled motions? Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia), who has attempted to tack on amendments to derail a regional transit authority at every step of the way (starting with the Joint Finance Committee and the Governor’s budget proposal). Vos argued for amendment after amendment, only to see them repeatedly tabled. The amendments ranged from allowing SERTA funds to be used for highway construction to requiring a drastic increase in the number of required votes (one for each county instead of the SERTA board) for SERTA to use its bonding authority already granted by the state.

After all was said and done near 5:30 A.M., only one amendment that had a significant effect on the bill was added. That amendment, AA2, eliminated recognition of the November 2008 advisory referendum passed by Milwaukee County voters that endorsed swapping property tax funding for a 1% sales tax to support transit, parks, recreation & culture, and EMS services. Under the amendment Milwaukee County will be required to pass a binding referendum exclusively on the sales tax funding of transit. Rep Barca first attempted to table the amendment, which failed, and then to reject the amendment outright, which failed by a single vote. At that point a vote to approve the amendment was taken, which passed on a near party-line vote with the notable exceptions of western Milwaukee County Representatives Cullen, Krusick, and Staskunas, all Democrats who appear to believe the majority of their districts may not support a property for sales tax swap for transit. After the results of the vote were announced, Representatives Kessler and Young, both Milwaukee County Democrats, asked to reconsider their votes, allowing for the amendment to be reconsidered in the future.

The Assembly will take up the bill again Thursday, the last scheduled day of their session before the November elections. Assuming the bill passes out of the Assembly, the Senate would also take up the bill that day.

A list of all the actions taken by the Assembly can be found on the Wisconsin website.

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10 thoughts on “RTA Will Be a Last Minute Decision”

  1. Nick Aster says:

    The goon squad is out of control on JSonline today in the comments section. Makes me kinda sad. But who knows, maybe some last minute progress will happen!

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Nick Yeah I really need to not read the comments over there.. yikes.

  3. Eric Schierer says:

    So, with the failure of the state (both legislature this time around and governor last year) and the county (for the last decade or so) to adequately fund mass transit in Milwaukee, where do we go from here?

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Eric That’s a great question. Unfortunately, I’m unsure of what the answer is…

  5. EWO says:

    Sarcastic response. Use a tax credit to buy a car from the legislature’s brother.
    Serous response. 1. Milwaukee used to have a good street car system. Make that known. I’ve only ever seen one system image in a history book. I’d like it if everyone could see what was here before the Ford era. 2. Milwaukee has fallen behind a lot of great and healthy cities who are just beginning to build trains for the first time. If Milwaukee could strengthen more of its urban core, the way other healthy medium sized cities have, a street care might be more viable. Today the majority of people in the Milwaukee region live too spread out to be positively affected by a small east side street car. Can the five or six square miles that a street car affect financially support the street car?

  6. CJ says:

    Milwaukee (my favorite city) is doomed. Just doomed. The Policians in your city are only doing what they are allowed to do – very unfortunate. Get rid of the cooked Politicians, you get rid of the problem.

  7. Young adults will not move here without an affordable, respectable transit system that can support an active urban core. Look at what the L does for Chicago and subway systems do for class A cities around the world.

  8. Eric Schierer says:

    Given the likely outcome of the fall elections, I have to imagine that this was the last best chance for a dedicated transit tax for the forseeable future. Unless that are other sources of funding (other city or county taxes) that would not require state approval.

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Eric I’m hoping they might still be able to bring it up in May during budget work… we’ll see.

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