Last week County Executive candidate Jim Sullivan announced his plan to provide funding to the Milwaukee County transit system and to lower Milwaukee County property taxes at the same time. Sullivan’s plan is simple: enact the referendum passed by Milwaukee County voters in 2008 and create a dedicated funding source for Milwaukee County Transit System. The logic is that dedicated transit funding will not only allow the county to invest in public transportation but will also save property taxpayers thousands of dollars by taking transit off the property tax rolls.
Here’s Sullivan’s statement in support of his plan:
“Milwaukee County is in dire need of a renewed, vibrant transit system and property tax relief. This plan will provide both,” candidate for Milwaukee County Executive Jim Sullivan said. “A revitalized transit system is an investment in our community that will attract business and create jobs across our County. I call on all of my opponents to join me in standing up for real solutions to restore our disappearing transit system.”
Sullivan’s campaign also released their “Save Our Transit” petition, which calls for the dedicated funding source that Milwaukee County voters supported in the 2008 referendum.
However, while Jim Sullivan wants Milwaukee County’s voters to believe he’s a champion of dedicated funding for Milwaukee County’s transit system, as a member of the State Senate Sullivan voted AGAINST the RTA compromise in the 2009-2011 state budget that would have created the very solution for transit he now proposes: a .5 percent dedicated sales tax for Milwaukee County for transit.
When the 2009-2011 state budget came to his desk former Governor Jim Doyle used his veto powers to eliminate an RTA compromise which would have authorized the Milwaukee County Board to act on one portion of the referendum approved by voters in November 2008, which would have transferred the Milwaukee County Transit System to dedicated sales tax funding, thus taking the system off the property tax levy. Jim Sullivan publicly agreed with Gov. Doyle’s vetoes, saying that the RTA bill needed to be regional, and that he opposed any transit/RTA proposals that gave special treatment to Milwaukee County.
The fact is, Jim Sullivan has had plenty of opportunities during his time in public service to demonstrate that he supports a dedicated funding source for the Milwaukee County Transit System, but it wasn’t until he decided to run for Milwaukee County Executive that Jim Sullivan decided he supported a dedicated sales tax to bolster the Milwaukee County Transit System.