Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a regional transit authority for southeastern Wisconsin from the state budget, but a group of Democratic state legislators are making another pitch on the idea.

It’s called the Regional Transit and Jobs Investment Act. State Senator John Lehman, a Racine Democrat, says allows local governments to choose to make mass transit service improvements and creates a pathway to additional regional transit cooperation and connectivity.

“We have the money in place for the KRM (Kenosha Racine Milwaukee commuter rail), the rental car fee, and we have this bill now that will strengthen especially Milwaukee local transit, but also Racine and Kenosha if the taxpayers are willing to put some more dollars into a regional dollars into a regional operation,” says Lehman.

But it’s precisely that promise of additional taxpayer dollars which concerns state Representative Robin Vos, a Caledonia Republican. Vos says the plan is nothing more than another unsustainable government program financed on the backs of taxpayers. “We know that in Milwaukee County, there is no requirement for a referendum, it’s just an automatic half percent sales tax increase,” notes Vos.

Sponsors say the bill integrates KRM with other mass transit and continues the car rental fee for the project. But Vos says the KRM project is itself an unsustainable government program which will require more subsidies. Vos says while he hopes the plan does create 4,700 jobs as the authors of the bill claim, he believes the cost – in the form of more taxpayer subsidies – is too high.

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