After nearly 12 hours of closed door discussions on Thursday, lawmakers on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved several changes to regional transit authority provisions in the state budget.
In the early hours of Friday morning, lawmakers debated the future of mass transit in Wisconsin. State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) lead an effort to lift the requirement for Milwaukee County to hold a public referendum to approve light rail. Grigsby says Milwaukee is the only county in the state that faces such a requirement. State Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) argued the restriction is something every community should face.
The committee approved changes that would create an RTA for Milwaukee County, a $16 car rental tax to fund a Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee rail line, and an RTA for Dane County.
A proposal to create an RTA for the Fox Cities was rejected on a 9-7 vote. State Representative Gary Sherman of Port Wing says lawmakers need to remember that northern parts of the state need public transportation options as well. Sherman say the people in his district have no public transit options for even leaving the region in far northern Wisconsin.
The changes must be approved by the full Legislature.