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State Budget Update
Legislature Votes Pro-Transit and Overrides the Governor's Budget, but Leaves Huge Challenges
Friday, June 16, 2011
The state budget was passed on Thursday by both the state Assembly and Senate. The Governor is expected to sign the budget next week.
There are three very important, very big wins for transit to celebrate.
There remains, however, huge challenges that will be deeply felt in households, businesses, and economies across the state as transportation services are slashed.
Over the next 5 months we will see the harmful local impacts of these decisions where the rubber meets the road, in the local budgeting process. This is where decisions about the exact service cuts will be made.
Despite these considerable new challenges, much was gained.
Many thanks to the community and business leaders, elected officials, and citizen advocates who worked together to effectively push back on historic attempts to sideline transit. Many of these attempts mirrored national scale efforts.
A powerful indicator of the broad support for transit came from elected, business, and educational leaders in the region who came together to urge legislators to restore transit funding and "protect our ability to remain competitive as we seek to create and retain jobs, help train and educate our workers, and connect workers to employers in Southeast Wisconsin."
Our thanks to Joint Finance Committee (JFC) members for wisely seeing transit as an integral and vital part of Wisconsin’s transportation system that must remain a part of the transportation fund. And, our sincere gratitude to JFC members Rep. Tamara Grigsby and Sen. Lena Taylor who repeatedly and passionately took the transit message to the Committee, the legislature, the press, and the public.
Kudos to the Senate members for understanding the impacts of a very complex issue and exempting transit workers from the collective bargaining provisions of the Budget Repair Bill. Their correction retains federal transit dollars and avoids the closure or decimation of many transit systems.
Many thanks to all fourteen Senate Dems who sponsored an amendment to restore state transit aids and keep people connected to jobs. Their actions fell on deaf ears as the amendment failed and the Governor's harmful proposal to drastically cut transit aids remained in the budget.
Ultimately, in an extremely challenging environment, crucial policies and funding were preserved, and the awareness of transit’s vital role for jobs and the economy; individuals, businesses, and communities, resonated statewide.
See more news here.
Walker Budget and Budget Repair Bill Undermine Transit, Jobs, and Business.
Updated June 11, 2011
News | Opinions
Something that many of us take for granted can be a life-alteringchallenge for seniors and people with disabilities.
GMC letter to Budget Committee Co-Chairs (pdf)
Milwaukee County Executive, Mayor, business and education leaders: letter to budget committee
Milwaukee-area leaders call for more transit aid In letter, 5 cite higher-than-expected calculations for state transportation funds
We urge Joint Finance Committee to restore transit funding
Walker wrong on transit proposals
MMAC opposes mass transit proposals
Boneheaded move on transit
Busting bus systems
Milwaukee County fears transit cuts
Killing KRM won’t help economy
Budget Summary (6/2/11)
Milwaukee Transit Q & A on impacts of budget
Milwaukee Transit Facts
Racine B.U.S. impacts of budget
Transit Keeps Wisconsin Working economic facts
June 3, 2011: Joint Finance Committe completes it's work on the budget. See TDA summary of JFC budget actions on transportation
June 13-25: Budget expected to move to Assembly and then Senate
Late June: Governor signs budget
Update: We applaud the Joint Finance Commitee for wisely listening to the needs of communities and businesses, and voting to keep transit in the transportation fund, as we had urged them to do. This decision helps protect transit from unnecessary funding threats in the General Fund. It also protects the many vital programs in General Fund that would have been under increased competition for dollars in a budget slated for drastic cuts. The budget committee also created a much needed $5 million para transit fund.
The Wisconsin state budget and special session Budget Repair Bill will have dramatic wide-reaching and long-term impacts our ability to keep people connected to jobs. Keeping people employed, living independently, and providing an educated workforce is essential to building a stable and growing economy, and reducing government costs.
Reduced flexibility and transit funding can only result in more job losses and workforce challenges for businesses due to cuts in transit service and fare increases.
Transit forms a vital link between thousands of workers and their jobs every day, saves household income, saves energy, creates more jobs per dollar invested than other forms of transportation, and it is a priority for business and talent attraction.
- Transit keeps Wisconsin working. On average, nearly half of transit trips are for work purposes. About 35,000 people use transit to get to work every day in Milwaukee alone.Transit is efficient and cost effective. Every dollar invested in transit in Wisconsin returns $3.61 to the community in benefits on average.
- Transit has become a "must have" for business attraction and expansion. See what business leaders and others say about transit.
The Governor’s 2011/2013 State Budget proposal:
Reduces state operating support to local transit systems by 10% in 2012, while eliminating local funding alternatives and increasing competition for local funding sources.
- Cuts state support for local municipalities adding even more pressure on the property tax levy, which is the local funding source for transit.
- Cuts shared revenue to municipalities PLUS cuts local transportation aids.
- Local transit systems depend on support from the state Transportation Fund to continue providing transportation services, much like highways, local roads, ports, freight rail, intercity rail and other forms of transportation.
The State Budget Adjustment Bill (SS SB/AB11)
- Forfeits $46 million in federal funds for transit in Wisconsin annually, beginning in 2011, an unintended consequence of SS SB11. Result in a 30% - 50% reduction in operating budgets for many systems in Wisconsin. In order to receive federal transit dollars, transit workers must retain certain collective bargaining rights. Under the Budget Repair Bill, those bargaining rights are stripped from transit workers that are employed by municipalities.
Although some municipalities are not impacted directly by this bill, the loss of federal funding of this magnitude across the state would impact all systems long-term. See more: Impacts of collective bargaining loss on transit
Eliminates all 4 Regional Transit Authorities that were enabled in the 2009-11 State Budget.
- This bill will eliminate local decision-making and crucial tools for communities to provide needed flexibility, improved efficiency, and stronger regional linkages. Elimination of RTAs has no fiscal impact on the 2011-13 State Budget.
- Would eliminate the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA,) and stop the proposed KRM Commuter Rail project, and the job access and economic development it would provide. KRM would link the Milwaukee-Chicago economic corridor along the Lakefront.
- Many communities are facing severe structural transit funding crises and RTAs provide needed local flexibility and tools to preserve and improve their transit programs.