KRM Line Left Out of Budget Compromise
The budget compromise was just approved by both sides of Wisconsin State Legislature, and will certainly be approved by Governor Jim Doyle later this week. In what ways did it affect Milwaukee?
Money for the the KRM line, connecting Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee with a high-frequency rail line, was left out of the budget. This money would have been raised through a $15 car rental fee/tax increase and bonds.
The director of the authority had this to say about it being left out of the budget…
Ostby wouldn’t say the project would be dead if money were not included in the budget, but admitted some serious thinking would have to be done.
“Honestly, I’ve just been so focused on getting it into the budget, that it’d just be time to regroup and rethink some things,” he said. “I suppose there is the potential for a referendum yet.” – Read more
There was an increase in the amount of money available via bonds for railroad development though in other areas of the state.
Plans for a passenger train between Milwaukee and Madison inched closer to reality. The budget increases bonding authority for the train’s development by $32 million, raising total bonding authority to $80 million. The state plans to seek federal funds to cover 80 percent of the project’s cost, with state bonds covering the remaining 20 percent, up to a total project cost of $400 million. No federal programs provide such funding, however, according to the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Read more
The budget bill, however, actually reads…
Under current law, DOT administers a Rail Passenger Route Development Program to, in part, fund capital costs related to Amtrak service extension routes or other rail service routes between Milwaukee and Madison and between Milwaukee and Green Bay. This bill expands the program to include routes between Chicago and Milwaukee and between Madison and La Crosse. The bill also increases general obligation bonding authority for the program from $50,000,000 to $82,000,000. Under current law, DOT may contract up to $44,500,000 in public debt for the acquisition and improvement of rail property. This bill increases the limit to $66,500,000.
So that money could ultimately be used elsewhere.
I’m happy that a compromise could be reached, however, it’s sad to see the KRM line get beat into the ground.