Jeramey Jannene

RTA – On Hold For Now

By - Apr 26th, 2010 12:41 pm
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MCTS, Falling Off A Cliff

MCTS, Falling Off A Cliff

Any hope for a regional transit authority in southeastern Wisconsin is on hold, as the Wisconsin State Legislature adjourned on Earth Day without passing a transit bill of any form for southeast Wisconsin. The bill, AB282, was close to passage in the Assembly, but lacked a few key votes from Milwaukee-area Democrats, notably Representatives David Cullen, Peggy Krusick, and Anthony Staskunas.

While Cullen, Krusick, and Staskunas aren’t responsible for the fiscal woes of MCTS (nor is MCTS itself), their support of AB282 could have saved a system that is headed for significant service cuts in 2011. A vote for a property tax for sales tax swap that Milwaukee County voters approved in 2008 would have been appreciated.

To show our frustration (and utter lack of graphic design skills), we’ve created a desktop wallpaper for you to display on your computer.

 

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9 thoughts on “RTA – On Hold For Now”

  1. Jeff Jordan says:

    Jeramey and Dave. Good stuff. I’m sure Decker and Sheridan were riding in the back of the driver. I agree with McNally. The democratic leadership was gutless and wrong. It’s priorities stuck out like a slacker’s shirt tails, They are more afraid they won’t get elected again than they are of doing the right thing. The problem is that the alternative is worse. We either vote for the gutless or vote for the guy driving the bus off the cliff.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff True. the bus was likely full of people driving MCTS off the cliff.

  3. Eric Schierer says:

    And Doyle certainly isn’t without blame as well. The legislature did approve a Milwaukee County sales tax last year as part of the budget, but he vetoed it because he didn’t like some of the specifics. (I forget exactly what his excuse was.)

  4. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Eric

    The proposal Doyle used his veto powers on would not have created a true regional transit authority, and instead would have left Milwaukee County as an island. It also did not include really solid provisions to merge the “bus” authority with the KRM Commuter Rail authority (SERTA).

  5. Eric Schierer says:

    @Jeramey

    It seems, though, that it would have been easier to change the pseudo-RTA a year or two or three down the road to expand it to include other counties or merge it with the KRM authority than to make sure the RTA is set up “properly” from the get-go. Frankly, I would have settled for no major changes to MCTS, just a 1/2 cent sales tax to fund it. And I say that as a STRONG supporter of rail (intercity, regional/commuter, and local/light rail/streetcar).

  6. Jeff Jordan says:

    I don’t disagree with Eric on the face of the argument, but I believe a large part of the objection to the part Doyle vetoed was the KRM was not going to get the funding it needed to qualify for the federal money that they need to make it work. The “NO TAX” argument carried the day in Racine and Kenosha county. I do agree that there is a element of “build it and they will join” when looking long term at an RTA.
    When Milwaukee gets a decent bus system, light rail or street car going, the smart people in Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha County will want to get in on it. But let’s remember the RTA bill in the Assembly never got voted on. As it stood it did not require a county to join an RTA. It merely laid out the guidelines for forming one and included referendum on the tax.

  7. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Eric

    I would disagree, I think once we get something in place it’ll be hard to change it. I think Doyle and others feel the same way.

    I’m also a proponent of eliminating direct Milwaukee County control of the transit system. It seems to me things will be better fiscally and service-wise if the city has a vote, and that the system isn’t used as a bargaining chip between the County Board and County Executive (regardless of who is in office on either side).

  8. Eric Schierer says:

    @Jeramey

    I don’t think that the current set-up (direct county control) is the best method, or even one of the better ones. I was simply arguing that I would rather have a stable (growing?) MCTS than a dying MCTS. However, given the choice between a growing, multi-modal RTA and MCTS, I would definitely choose the RTA.

    I guess I see the tax as the hardest part. Once that is (ever?) in place, I feel it would be easier to change the governance of the transit system. Not necessarily easy, just easier than the initial imposition of the tax.

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