Hundreds are gathering in West Allis today to speed up Regional Transit Authority legislation. Kurt Zunker, President of AFSCME Local 882, says the rally commemorates a November 2008 referendum in which Milwaukee County residents voted for establishment of an RTA and a funding mechanism of a half-cent sales tax hike.
Governor Doyle vetoed a part of the state budget that would’ve established a Milwaukee County Transit Authority, in favor of a regional approach to include Kenosha and Racine Counties. Lately Doyle has been spearheading a new proposal involving establishment of an interim RTA for Milwaukee County that neighboring counties could get involved with.
Zunker, who represents airport and fleet workers, says a sales tax increase would allow visitors to contribute to transportation funding.
“This is fair because now you have people from lllinois that come up and enjoy our infrastructure, now they’re paying part of it.” says Zunker, who notes Wisconsinites have to pay for use of Illinois toll roads.
Currently transit in Milwaukee is paid for by property taxes, joining Detroit as the only two major cities in the US still utilizing this source of funding.
Transit supporters say it makes a region more attractive to outside investment and spurs economic growth. Opponents, especially of rail, note high costs to build and maintain systems.
Brian Moon reports (:64)