In the past few weeks, both the Assembly and Senate have passed their versions of the state budget.  Both included provisions for transit, but are not the same.  See below for links and information to summaries of what has happened so far with RTA, dedicated funding and KRM since the Governor released his budget in February.

Right now, plans for an RTA and dedicated funding are being negotiated by the legislature as they try to reconcile the two versions.  This afternoon they announced the formation of a Conference Committee to do this: State Budget Deal Might Be Near: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/49033846.html

That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to make your voice heard NOW!  We have asked a lot of our members and partners in the Coalition for Advancing Transit, particularly in the last few months.  But we believe that is why we are so close to achieving some monumental progress in transit!  Please take a moment to call or contact these legislators and the Governor.  Be sure to include your full name, address and phone number. 

What to say?  Keep it simple:

  • Tell the legislators that it is so important that we think REGIONALLY by allowing one 3-county RTA.  This is the first time that we have a real shot at a regional transit system and attaining federal funding and we can’t compromise that.
  • A dedicated sales tax is the best solution to ensure the survival of MCTS and to make important future investments in transit and our economy.   
  • Thank the Governor for his continued support of this issue.  He has stuck his neck out in a major way!  Tell him that it is important we ensure a regional approach to transit in SE WI.
  1. Senator Lena Taylor: (608) 266-5810, District Telephone: (414) 342-7176 or Sen.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov
  2. Senator Tim Carpenter: (800) 249-8173, District Telephone: (414) 383-9161 or Sen.Carpenter@legis.wisconsin.gov
  3. Representative  Richards: (608) 266- 0650  or (888) 534-0019 or Rep.Richards@legis.wi.gov
  4. Representative Cullen: (608) 267-9836 or (888) 534-0013 or Email: Rep.Cullen@legis.wi.gov
  5. Governor Jim Doyle: (608) 266-1212 or governor@wisconsin.gov

One last thing…please forward this information onto your own networks, friends, colleagues and neighbors and ask them to do the same!!  Our legislators need to hear from their constituents how important transit is to the growth of our regional economy.  Again, thank you all for your continued engagement and action on this very important issue.  We are inching forward and making progress every day! 

Let’s Get Moving!
Kristi Luzar, Program Manager, UEDA
Coalition for Advancing Transit (C.A.T.) 

Also, for those of you who may have not seen this, UrbanMilwaukee recently put together a great summary of the many versions we have seen of an RTA and/or dedicated funding throughout the budget process, including an RTA Chart & Timeline: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2009/06/18/krm-and-rta-update/

Information on transit provisions in the Senate’s version of the budget:

The Senate passed their version of the budget late last Wednesday night with a 17-16 vote. Democratic Senator Sullivan joined 15 Republican Senators in voting in opposition of the budget.  In summary:

  • The Senate would like to create one, three-county SERTA to apply for federal funds, collect rental car revenues and operate KRM, and gives the Milwaukee County Board the authority to levy and oversee allocation of 1% sales tax for MCTS, parks and EMS.  15% of these funds would still go to Milwaukee County municipalities for public safety purposes.
  • The KRM would still be funded with an indexed $16 rental car fee. 
  • There are no suggestions on how to create better regional connections between existing bus systems or how to generate additional revenue to support transit in Racine or Kenosha.

The Senate version of the budget also included the following amendments to the Joint Finance Committee’s recommendations:

For Milwaukee County:

  • Removed provisions to create a Milwaukee County RTA/Transit Authority;
  • Granted Milwaukee County the authority to levy an additional 1% sales tax to be used to fund transit, parks, culture and E.M.S., however did not specify a specific allocation to transit;
  • Allowed for 0.15% of 1% sales tax to be distributed to municipalities in Milwaukee County on a per capita basis; and
  • Included a provision allowing for property tax relief.

For SERTA:

  • Create a SERTA for the full three county region; 9 member board: appointments include 2 members appointed by the Milwaukee County Board, 2 members appointed by the city of Milwaukee; 1 member appointed by the Racine County Board; 1 member appointed by the Racine Mayor;  1 member appointed by the Kenosha County Board, 1 member appointed by the Kenosha mayor; 1 governor appointee; KRM would have to include a stop at National Avenue in Milwaukee and the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Bay Street; the local share of KRM to be funded by $16 per transaction fee with indexing; KRM RTA approved for $50 million in bonding; KRM RTA would get the balance of the funds from the existing RTA;
  • No provision for consolidating transit services; and
  • No additional funding for Racine and Kenosha transit systems.

The full LFB report  of the Senate’s budget is available at this link:  http://www.legis.state.wi.us/lfb/2009-11Budget/2009_06_17WI%20Senate.pdf

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