Milwaukee County gets the short end of the stick on transit

In his proposed 2011-2013 biennial budget, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed cutting transit aid by ten percent, with much of that figure coming from Milwaukee County, which has the state’s largest transit system. As if that’s not bad enough news for Milwaukee County’s transit system, Republican State Rep. Robin Vos has come up with another way to screw over Milwaukee County’s transit system, as noted by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele in a letter to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. In the letter, Abele urged lawmakers to reconsider Rep. Vos’ proposal to not only disband southeastern Wisconsin’s Regional Transit Authority, but that would also split the $1.27 million in its bank account evenly between Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha counties, citing the fact that the “vast majority of the funding was raised in Milwaukee County.”

Under Gov. Walker’s proposed cuts to transit, Milwaukee County’s transit system would see a loss of nearly $7 million in state funding, and under Rep. Vos’ proposal funds that could be used to close the funding gap due to the cuts proposed by Walker will instead be allocated to Racine and Kenosha counties, as noted by Abele.

“The proposal to split this money in thirds between three counties would needlessly divert Milwaukee County tax dollars to other areas when our transit system faces nearly $7 million in transit cuts in the next state budget,” Abele wrote to Vos and state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). “I hope that an organization intended to foster cooperation will not be dissolved in such a way as to further penalize Milwaukee County taxpayers.”

Though he’s no longer Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker is still finding ways to screw over Milwaukee County, only now he’s got help from fellow Republicans like Robin Vos.


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3 thoughts on “Milwaukee County gets the short end of the stick on transit

  1. Not a fan of the RTAs in general, for a variety of reasons. Another taxing authority – with poor accountability. Make a specific, concrete plan for a project & pass a referendum, that’s a different story.

    But as far as how to split the existing money up…What proportion from each county was the money raised?

    I don’t see any reason that the split of the funds shouldn’t reflect the same proportion that they were paid in – give the money back to those who paid it.

    If Racine & Kenosha each paid in a third, then Milwaukee County should STFU. But if Milwaukee County paid in more than a third – especially significantly more, then I agree, they’re getting screwed.

    I didn’t see anything in the article that actually mentions how the funding was split. And if that question can’t actually be answered…if they can’t determine how much money came from where…

  2. Thanks for doing the legwork.

    Vos said late Wednesday said it was fairer to divide the $1.3 million equally among the three counties. He said it was hard to tell where the customers who paid the car rental tax lived, even though most paid it on airport car rentals.

    Why would it matter where the customers lived? Presumably, a significant chunk of them were from out of state. The county where it was collected should determine it.

    But it sounds like there’s not really any record keeping of which counties contributed how much – only an study done after the fact, estimating it. Go ahead & pay it back out based on that if that’s all there is to go by, and the study is credible – I’m in agreement that paying Milwaukee County 1/3 when 90% came from them just isn’t right.

    But I will agree with Vos on the “That showed me they aren’t the greatest stewards” of public dollars,” part. That the RTA not even being able to show conclusively where the money came from – just too busy grabbing the cash to worry about any sort of fiduciary responsibility – shows why so many of don’t like the structure and don’t trust them.

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