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The next few days are an especially important time to speak up for preserving transit.  The state budget committee will be voting on the 2013-15 transportation within the next week, possibly as early as Thursday, May 23rd.

Please call or email now to remind Joint Finance Committee members, and your own Senator and Representative, about the urgency and importance of restoring state transit funding to preserve vital transit services in 2014 and 2015.

Even if you have already emailed or called earlier, please take a few minutes now to speak up once more to preserve transit.  Sharing your personal reasons for supporting transit is very powerful – and feel free to use the facts below.

Contact information:

A contact list for the Joint Finance Committee members can be found here.  You can click the links on the document or copy and paste the addresses.  Find your own Representative and Senator here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

Request: Please restore state funding to maintain vital transit services in 2014 and 2015.  Be sure to leave your name and address.

IMPORTANT TRANSIT FACTS:

Without a change to the current 2013-15 State Biennial Budget Bill, AB 40, the cut in state funding made in the last state budget would continue, and communities across the region and state would continue to lose transit connections.

In Milwaukee County, one-time federal funding was used to fill the gap temporarily.  That funding will expire in 2014 leaving a $7 million gap in the MCTS annual operating budget.  A loss of this magnitude can only result in very significant and harmful service cuts and/or fare increases.

Restoring state transit funding to maintain transit services is reasonable. It requires less than one half of one percent of the $6.4 billion transportation budget.

Transit is essential part of our transportation system, keeping our communities and our economy working: 

  • Keeps workers connected to their jobs and students to universities, colleges and schools.
  • Supports businesses workforce needs, and the multitude of events and tourist destinations that provide jobs and tax revenues.
  • Makes us more competitive, helping to attract businesses and the young professionals they seek, who are choosing to live in places that offer transportation options.
  • Allows our growing senior population to remain living independently and out of expensive nursing home care, the cost of which often rests on government programs, and ultimately, the taxpayers.
  • Good transit will be even more important to keeping commerce moving during the Zoo Interchange and I-94 reconstruction that will stretch over the next decade.

VIEW THE STATE BUDGET FACT SHEET HERE or see more information at www.transitnow.org

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The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is holding 4 public hearings on the Biennial Budget Bill.  These hearings provide an opportunity to testify before legislators who will make critical spending decisions on transit.   The SE Wisconsin hearing is on:

Thursday, April 4 from 10am to 6pm
At Greendale High School
, 6801 Southway, Greendale  MAP

Scroll down for more information on talking points and tips for testifying.  If you are not able to testify at the hearing, send your comments to the committee members via email, phone or mail.
Also, share this information about transit with associates and friends!

Regional Transit Initiative Policy Platform and Joint Finance Committee Contact Information

Find your State Legislator here or call 1-800-362-9472

Transit is vital to so many aspects of the economy and community of SE Wisconsin, and yet the 2013-15 state budget bill, AB40, continues the harmful 10% cut to transit funding made in the 2011-13 state budget. It also undermines the future of transit by moving transit out of the segregated transportation fund into the general fund where is will be competing with every non-transportation program.

Without a change, communities in SE WI and across the state will continue to lose essential mobility.  Milwaukee County faces a particularly devastating situation when the one-time federal funding expires in 2014 that is funding transit since the 10% cut in transit funding in the last state budget.

Implementing the following 2013-15 state budget priorities is essential to preserving transit service and protecting our ability to create and retain jobs, help train and educate our workers, and connect workers to employers in Southeast Wisconsin.

  1. Restore state transit operating aids that were cut in the 2011-13 biennial budget, to preserve vital transit services.
  2. Maintain transit funding from the segregated Transportation Fund, to provide crucial funding stability. Transit is as integral a part of the transportation system as roads and requires the same stable dedicated funding from the segregated funding source.

Tips for Testifying

  • The hearings draw a big crowd, so arrive early to register to speak.
  • Bring 20 copies of your testimony, if possible – enough copies for the committee (16) and some extras for those who are interested.
  • Be brief – remarks are generally limited to 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Begin with a clear and concise statement of our position and what you want. “I am urging you to amend the budget to include ______________.”
  • Powerful testimony is a combination of personal stories and accurate, current statistics. Speak from your heart.

ARTICLES & INFORMATION

Milwaukee needs to save its Bucks and its buses  (3/8/13) BizTimes.com BizBlog by Milwaukee County Supervisor Michael Mayo

Is Scott Walker killing of public transit? Transit’s funding is uncertain but road builders win big (3/6/13) Shepherd Express

Good Transit Policy Shouldn’t Lean Left or Right  (2/16/13) JSOnline “Purple Wisconsin” blog by Alex Runner

Scott Walker says he’ll invest $6.4 billion for transportation needs  (2/15/13) JSOnline “All Politics” blog by Don Walker

Growing Our Economy: Investing in Infrastructure  (2/14/13) Press Release on Transportation Budget by Governor Walker

Wisconsin Transit Week is February 4-10, 2013!  Ride transit, tweet and share. What’s your transit system? http://ow.ly/gNtgc #WITransit

Go to www.witransitweek.comhow MCTS is celebrating

Other news in Wisconsin transit…

WI Commission on Transportation Finance and Policy Report released, how to contact the Governor and show your support for Transit, and links to articles from the past month.
Scroll down for details and more information and don’t forget to ride transit, tweet and share!

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

 

Contact the Governor about the State Transportation Budget

There is a troubling transit situation approaching, and an immediate opportunity to help, that we thought that you would want to know about:

In the last state budget, state transit aids were cut by 10%, or nearly $7 million for Milwaukee County.  Only with a one-time influx of Federal funds did we prevent the funding gap from affecting transit service.  But this could once again be at our doorstep in February 2014. If there is not a change, the magnitude of the funding gap will most certainly mean a decrease in transit services. 

You may recall MCTS developed plans in 2011 to address the funding cut expected for 2012, which included the elimination of entire routes and route segments, reduced frequencies, shorter operating hours, reduced service areas, and more.

At the last minute, Milwaukee County was able to find a creative solution to keep services mostly intact by repurposing one-time federal CMAQ funds that were set aside for the KRM Commuter rail project, which was shelved in the same state budget.  These funds have a 2-year life span, and are expected to be exhausted in February 2014.

In addition, last week the WI Commission on Transportation Finance and Policy delivered their report, “Keep Wisconsin Moving,” and recommended that the State restore transit aids. (The commission was created and appointed by Governor Walker and legislative leadership in the last state budget, and was expertly staffed by WisDOT over a very in-depth 15-month process. See more here

There is an opportunity right now to encourage the Governor to restore the 10% cut in state transit aids and maintain current transit services. The Governor has indicated that he will accept input on his transportation budget for 2013-15 through January 31st.

Your email to the Governor today or tomorrow would be very helpful in communicating the importance of maintaining transit services to you and to the economy, and urging him to implement the recommendation of the commission and restore state transit funding levels, so that vital transit service levels can be maintained.

The cost to restore the transit cuts statewide is so small, less than one half of one percent of the total Transportation Fund Budget, and would preserve crucial mobility that is essential to our economy.

An email can be sent through Andrew Davis in the Governor’s office: Andrew.Davis@wisconsin.gov

ARTICLES & INFORMATION:

Coalition for Advancing Transit Meeting

An update on the future of local transit systems & the impact of local spring elections

THIS Thursday, March 31:  6:30-8:00pm
At IndependenceFirst
540 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee WI 53204 – Located on MCTS route 15

Visit www.ridemcts.org to plan your trip or call the Bus Line at (414) 344-6711 for assistance.

Why Attend?

  • We can’t afford the cost of inaction on the Budget Bill – a 10% reduction in State aid to local transit is proposed!
  • Effective 2013, the costs for public transit could be removed out of the State transportation fund and into the very competitive General Fund.
  • The removal of collective bargaining could cut $46 million in Federal Aid for transit systems in Wisconsin.
  • Legislation ending all Regional Transit Authorities has been proposed.
  • Leadership on transit is needed at the local and county level

Time is short! Support for Transit is needed now more than ever by members of the Coalition and other Transit Advocates.

This event is free and open to the public.  To RSVP or ask questions, contact Kristi@uedawi.org or 414-562-9904

Also, last week the Department of Transportation held hearings on the proposed Zoo Interchange project. Hundreds of people showed up to provide comments and feedback.  Currently, transit is NOT being considered by the DOT as a part of this process, as explained by DOT Secretary Gottlieb in a recent Journal Sentinel article: “Revised Zoo Interchange Project To Seek Go-Ahead” http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/118341699.html

A freeway rebuild of this scale will have tremendous environmental impacts, as well as a detrimental effect on those who depend on transit.  It is important that the DOT hears from citizens on the importance of integrating transit as a component of this project. You can submit written comments to the DOT – they must be postmarked or emailed by April 4.  Send to: William Mohr, P.E., Mega Project Manager, WI DOT SE Transportation Region, 141 NW Barstow, PO Box 798, Waukesha, WI 53187.  Or email to bill.mohr@dot.wi.gov.

More information about the Zoo Interchange can be found by calling the Zoo Interchange Study hot line at (262) 548-6421 or visiting http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/sefreeways/zooindex.htm

Please note that IndependenceFirst asks the following of those who visit their facility:  For the safety and comfort of those with chemical and environmental sensitivities, persons attending agency-sponsored events should please refrain from using any perfumed products such as scented soaps, hand lotions, deodorants, perfumes, colognes, or other heavily scented products such as fabric softeners or bug spray.  It is also essential that we maintain a smoke-free environment, therefore in addition to not smoking in the building, we ask that you refrain from smoking in main paths of travel and doorways

The past month has seen a number of key proposals by the Governor and State legislature that will have a major impact on local transit systems across the state of Wisconsin.  Also, local elections will shape the future of how the challenges to our transit systems are addressed.  Scroll down for more information, links to articles on what these changes may mean for our community and the national implications.

What can you do to help support and preserve transit in Wisconsin? We need the voices of all advocates and supporters now more than ever!  Join us on March 31st for a full Coalition meeting.  We will provide you with a full update on the State budget and transit, and candidates for the Milwaukee County Executive and Supervisor races are invited to discuss their views on transit.

Coalition for Advancing Transit Meeting – Open to the Public
Thursday, March 31st 2011 at 6:30pm
At IndependenceFirst, located at 540 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204
Located on bus route 15 or visit www.ridemcts.org to plan your trip

RSVP to Kristi@uedawi.org or 414.562.9904

As we noted in a recent update (scroll down), the removal of collective bargaining provisions jeopardizes $46million in Federal transit aids for Wisconsin transit systems.  This may result in a 30-50% reduction in operating budgets for many mid-size communities in the State and a loss of that magnitude will impact all systems.

The Governor’s 2011-2013 State Budget proposal stipulates that effective in 2013, the costs for public transit will be removed out of the State transportation fund and into the very competitive General Fund.  It also reduces operating support to local transit systems by 10% and eliminates the ability of local governments to introduce local funding alternatives. Local transit systems throughout the state rely on these funds to provide annual operating assistance – for example, the state investment in Milwaukee public transportation is $70 million a year – a significant part of the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) annual budget.

Lastly, legislators introduced bills that call for the elimination of ALL Regional Transit Authorities that were enabled in the 2009-2010 State Budget (SB25 and AB36).  NOTE: Existing RTAs would have NO fiscal impact on the state budget in this biennium – why eliminate these important tools for local communities?

Transit is a crucial part of a growing economy – in Milwaukee County close to 45% of individuals who use transit services take the bus to work or other job-related opportunities.  In the Business Journal’s recent “40 Under 40” issue, winners were asked “Do you support an improved transit system in SE WI as a means of encouraging economic development?”  79% of them said “yes” with no other question generating such a strong, positive response.  Emerging leaders in this region recognize that transit is absolutely vital to business growth, talent attraction and connecting our community.

A brief summary of the proposed State budget and its impacts on transit was put together by our friends at TransitNow.  Join us on Thursday, March 31st and learn more about crucial efforts to preserve and improve our transit systems!  Get engaged in helping move forward with solutions for the challenges facing our local transit systems.

Moving Forward Together
The Coalition for Advancing Transit

ARTICLE LINKS:

MILWAUKEE COUNTY SPRING ELECTIONS:

Here is an update on the transit-related issue for the Budget Repair bill (SS SB 11), which is scheduled to be voted on today or tomorrow.  Below is an article discussing how this measure could have extremely detrimental impacts on the majority of transit programs, both urban and rural, throughout Wisconsin.  This may not impact Milwaukee, Racine or Waukesha, but it will impact Kenosha and other systems – this would be a huge step backwards for the ability of local communities in Wisconsin to provide transit services.  Even Senator Alberta Darling has stated she would like to discuss/address this before voting on the bill.  

Please take a few moments to call the following legislators, as well as your own, and ask them to consider the impact on transit systems in Wisconsin before voting on the bill:

Read More:  Walker budget repair bill puts $46.6 million annually in transit aids at risk – Federal Transit Aids Get Mired in Budget Bill

Summary:  Under the Budget Repair Bill (SS SB 11) proposed by Governor Scott Walker, transit systems in Wisconsin could lose $46.6 million in federal transit aid.  The federal government is a financial partner in providing public transit services in local communities, ensuring citizen accessibility, safety and service stability.  This long time successful and efficient partnership would be greatly jeopardized or eliminated with the enactment of the budget repair bill under consideration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:  “The measure by Gov. Scott Walker would strip most union rights away from most public employees. That could put in danger federal aid for buses because U.S. law requires that collective bargaining rights remain in place to get federal funds, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released a briefing paper outlining the specific risks to Wisconsin communities. They found that some transit systems in Wisconsin would not be affected because they are private companies that are under contract to local municipalities, which means they would not be affected by the labor provisions in the Budget Repair Bill. However, the final result could mean a loss of $46.6 million annually in federal transit aids to Wisconsin.

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the Joint Finance Committee, wants to address the transit issue before the bill is voted on.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said no changes will be made to the bill to would ensure transit funds are not at risk before it is voted on today.

Friends of Transit,

From today’s Journal Sentinel…Governor Walker’s proposed budget bill could have other consequences.  It could jeopardize Federal Transit funds that are absolutely critical to local transit systems throughout Wisconsin, given that local communities are not enabled to dedicate a local funding source for transit and must rely on State and Federal funding to operate their systems. 

“Walker bill could put millions in transit aid at risk “http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/116284394.html
“Wisconsin communities could lose $70 million or more in federal aid for transit systems under a bill quickly moving through the state Legislature, opponents of the bill are warning.  The measure by Gov. Scott Walker would strip most union rights away from most public employees.  That could put in danger federal aid for buses because U.S. law requires that collective bargaining rights remain in place to get federal funds, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.”

Call to tell the Senate and Assembly to vote NO on the Budget Bill and please pass this along and post!! 

You can find your State Legislators by visiting here: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx  or by calling 1-800-362-9472.

More to follow in the next few days…there is a lot of activity happening in this session of the State Legislature, beyond the Budget bill that could have serious affects on transit systems in Wisconsin. Stay tuned!

Transit needs our support now more than ever. It connects workers and employers, ensures individuals and families can get to schools, shopping, health care and entertainment and allows everyone to fully participate in our community.  Over the past couple of years members of the Coalition for Advancing Transit and others have worked hard to ensure that our local transit systems remain this way.  But significant challenges remain, as well as great opportunities.

The Milwaukee County Executive Race

One way to strengthen our position is to ensure our local elected officials are supportive of and take a lead on transit.   Having consensus government locally on this issue will be key to working with the state legislature on resolving the long-term problems facing our local transit systems.   The primary for the Milwaukee County Executive race is THIS Tuesday, February 15.  Learn about the candidates and make sure you vote! After the primary we will keep you in the loop regarding any forums or other opportunities to get engaged.  Listed below are some links to information on the five candidates for County Executive and the transit issue.

WUWM did a series of interviews this week with each candidate:

From Milwaukee News Buzz:  County exec candidates battle over bus funding

New Faces in State Government…

Crucial decisions will be made in the next few months at the state level that will affect transit and transportation.   The Governor is expected to announce his budget on Tuesday, February 22nd and the legislature will take it up after that.

Once again, we need your voices to help bring transit issues home for them.  They need to hear why you value transit and how important it is to your community.   Take a few minutes to call or contact Governor Walker and let him know you support efforts to move Wisconsin into the 21st century when it comes to transportation.  State support is critical to the success of our local transit systems.

  • Phone: 608-266-1212
  • Mail: Office of Governor Scott Walker, 115 East Capitol, Madison WI 53702
  • Email: govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

Today’s editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “New Ideas Required” clearly describes how transit systems need adequate support from the state to remain vital to economic development.  Other reasons why the Governor needs to hear you support transit are:

  • Access to good transit can help reduce transportation costs for families, up to 10-20% of their income each year.
  • Transit is a strong business attractor – those looking to locate or expand want reliable, affordable access to a broad workforce and customer base.
  • Transit systems in Wisconsin ARE efficient and effective – MCTS is the most cost-effective among its peers in the U.S.  Local communities should be enabled to raise additional local funding to invest in preserving and expanding their transit systems.
  • Regional cooperation is crucial to economic competitiveness, creating well-connected assets in regions like SE WI, the Fox Valley and more.

Other Updates…

Scroll down for information on a Milwaukee County Candidate Forum scheduled for Friday, March 4th and articles on the City of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, a report from US PIRG on the cost of roads and transit, and links to recent reports by the WI Legislative Fiscal Bureau on issues related to transit in Wisconsin.

The Coalition for Advancing Transit
Moving Forward Together

Articles & Information: