RTA Bill Falls Short, Next Steps...
April 28, 2010
The Wisconsin Legislature narrowly missed passing regional transit and jobs legislation (AB-282) last week. The bill would have put control of transit decisions in the hands of local communities by allowing them to vote to establish Regional Transit Authorities and dedicated funding for transit, and in some cases remove transit costs from property taxes.
The impacts of inaction on the RTA bill are clear: Transit systems in Metro Milwaukee and the Fox Cities face steep declines in services starting in January 2011, and job creation opportunities will not materialize.
First, our thanks to the hundreds of leaders and citizens who partnered in the extraordinary effort to save SE Wisconsin transit systems and build the regional transit connections needed to create jobs and sustainable economic growth that is so important for our families and our businesses.
The landmark RTA effort reached its very peak—where the RTA bill fell just shy of passing on April 22, the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. The Senate chose to adjourn before the Assembly had taken up the RTA legislation that was on its calendar.
Legislation champions deserve our deepest gratitude for their extremely hard work, especially Representatives Barca, Grigsby, Mason, Sinicki, Assembly Speaker Sheridan, and Senators Taylor, Plale, and Lehman, and many others pitched in, too!
The RTA bill would have allowed communities and SE WI and across the state to vote locally to create RTAs. Unbelievably, some legislators chose to say no to alowing local municipalities to support their local and regional transportation systems and create jobs and economic development; and instead said yes to slashing transit services by up to 1/3 in SE WI, and 25% in the Fox Cities.
Although the ultimate goal was not reached just yet, the RTA got very close and many amazing and important accomplishments were made that have changed our communities and set a strong new direction in play that will forge onward.
There was not one other issue with more positive press, or more groups testifying in Madison this year. There was not any other legislation that had so much positive testimony and so little opposition. There is not even one lobbying group registered in opposition to AB-282 on the final day of the session.
Over the past week there is a clear message coming from every direction
This critical issue is far far too important and the RTA effort has come much to far to let it drop. The fight for local control of transit, for jobs, for keeping people connected to opportunity and for creating new economic opportunity and energy indepedence in SE WI must go on.
Over the next few weeks advocates will debrief and assess the best way to go forward to solve our urgent transit crisis and keep KRM moving ahead before the true impacts to real people and real businesses hit SE Wisconsin. What do you think the next steps should be? Click here to submit your comments.
How do you feel about the outcome and the work of our state legislators?