New Milwaukee Transit Plan Unveiled
Eight drafts, and a couple months later, the new regional transit authority plan for southeastern Wisconsin has been unveiled. Governor Jim Doyle introduced the new bill at a press conference at Bucyrus in South Milwaukee with Bucyrus President and CEO Tim Sullivan, Roundy’s CEO and Chairman Bob Mariano, Northwestern Mutual CEO Ed Zore, AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden, S.C. Johnson & Son Chairman and CEO J. Fisk Johnson, Johnson Controls Chairman, President and CEO Steve Roell, Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor, and Racine Mayor John Dickert.
For the sake of hopefully getting a good plan in place, going the “veto and separate legislation” route was a wise move on Doyle’s part. We’ve endorsed the idea before of a regional transit authority funded by a sales tax, and still stand by it as the right thing to do today. The new plan is not nearly as aggressive as the old one, allowing Racine and Kenosha Counties to phase in over time. It does, however, provide desperately needed funding for Milwaukee County, contain language for an elimination of transit funding from the property tax (creating a tax trade-off instead of a new tax), and allow for development of the KRM Commuter Rail line to go forward which will better connect Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, as well as Wisconsin and Illinois.
Despite what County Executive Scott Walker tells you, we think this is a good plan to get southeastern Wisconsin transit out of the death spiral it’s in. It’s also worth pointing out the irony of the knee-jerk reaction of some Republicans to dismiss this plan as a new tax, while the businesses and people they claim to represent are on-stage asking for it.