Support for creation of Regional Transit Authorities was expressed by speakers at Monday's Joint Finance Committee state budget hearing at Racine's J.I. Case High School.

"A fully functional regional transit authority, complete with commuter rail, is necessary to stimulate the economy and create jobs in this region," said Racine Mayor Tom Friedel. "Without an RTA we will remain disconnected from the opportunities in Chicago and Milwaukee. Without and RTA we will miss out nn the economic development that is sure to occur in this area after this low point in our national economy, Friedel called the RTA provision the "most promising part of the budget"

"We've labored long and hard over the last eight years to see RTA language created in this budget," said Roger Caron, Executive Director of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce. "We support it. We think it's important for the long term regional health of our area. The idea of regional cooperation between Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha is shared with many others."

Flanked by the heads of several of Racine's largest employers, Mike Battan, Chairman and CEO of Twin Disc, said work must begin for the longer term future and growth of the region. "We understand that a tax increase is not one that sits well with many," said Battan. "But on the other hand, we think in the long run for our community, which has lost over 10,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three decades, we are going to have to do something."

A letter in support of the RTA has also been sent to Governor Jim Doyle, signed by heads of many of the heavy hitters in Racine's business community, including SC Johnson and Johnson financial, Wispark, Kranz, Ruud Lighting, In-sink-erator, Merchant's Moving and Storage and Wheaton Fransciscan-All Saints.

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