Walker’s budget guts transit

Governor Scott Walker released his 2011-2013 State Budget yesterday. This budget reduces State funding for transit systems by 10% for each transit system. For the Milwaukee County Transit System, this is $7 million dollars. In addition to cuting transit funding, Walker is removing it from the State’s transportation fund, which is funded by gas taxes, to the State’s General Purpose fund – meaning that transit funding at the State level will be just as unstable as it is in Milwaukee County. This comes at the same time that millions of extra dollars are being put into the Transportation fund to speed up unnecessary highway expansion projects.

State funds account for 42% of the Milwaukee County Transit System’s operating budget. At a time when MCTS has been stretched to the brink due to a lack of dedicated funding source, this will result in devastating service cuts. “Service cuts and fare increases are always our last resort,” stated Anita Gulotta-Connelly, MCTS Managing Director, “but with the reduction in State funding and rapidly escalating fuel prices, difficult decisions will be necessary.”

“This $7 million cut in State operating assistance, if approved, could force the County to raise bus fares and eliminate all Freeway Flyers (including service to Summerfest and State Fair), late night and early morning service, and numerous route segments. A reduction in paratransit services would remove transit access for individuals with disabilities in Milwaukee County’s southern suburbs and north shore communities,” Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said. “We’ve been asking for dedicated funding for years. After serving as County Executive for more than eight years, Governor Walker is well aware of this need. But, instead of protecting mass transit in the transportation fund, he is removing it. Mass transit is a form of transportation, so why can’t it be protected, too?”

These cuts will have a tremendous effect on people in Milwaukee County, whether they ride the bus or not. As with other cuts, there will be a negative effect on the local economy.  “We’re losing our ability to connect workers with jobs,” Chairman Holloway added. “If the business community still supports transit, then it’s time for our business leaders to meet with the Governor and Legislative leaders to inform them of the important role transit plays in the transportation and economic infrastructure of this region.”

Whether you are a business leader or not, you should contact your legislator and/or Governor Walker and tell them to sustain transit funding and keep it in the transportation fund.

You can find your State Senator’s contact information at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/contact/legislatorslist.aspx?house=senate.

You can find your State Representative’s contact information at: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/W3asp/contact/legislatorslist.aspx?house=assembly.

You can find Governor Walker’s contact information at: http://walker.wi.gov/.