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Thursday, April 2, 2009

KRM, local train service needs to move forward

From a guest editorial by Timothy Sheehy, Roger Caron and Todd Battle in the Racine Journal Times:
In southeastern Wisconsin, regional cooperation has been a long time coming.

The need for economic development and job creation in our cities has never been more critical. After many years of talking about the benefits of regional cooperation the cities in our region are united in a cause that will address those needs. That cause is regional transportation.

Our organizations are responsible for increasing the economic vitality of the surrounding community, and while each city faces unique challenges, we share a common goal of fostering business development, job creation and capital investment.

None of our cities is unique in its work to support the efficient and continued operation of transit systems at a time when state and federal funds for transit are stagnant. We all agree that frequent, reliable transit is critical to ensuring that all residents can access jobs. Conversely, reliable transit is critical in assuring businesses that they are accessible by employees. Businesses need people to operate, and people need to get to work. With more impending cuts to the bus system, we are at risk of jeopardizing that workflow.

In addition to solving the current financial crisis caused by funding bus transit with local property taxes, we are in agreement that our region will benefit significantly by strengthening its connection to the metropolitan Chicago area. Our neighbors to the south have developed a booming global marketplace, and we have yet to take full advantage of the opportunity to easily access and leverage the workforce, jobs, business expansion and commerce taking place there. For these reasons, we are also united in our belief that the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail system and our local train service need to move forward. We are asking the Governor and Legislature to give local leaders the ability to enact a dedicated sales tax of up to one-half percent to fund transit.

As advocates for a diverse business community, we believe that shifting the costs off of the property tax and onto a sales tax is not only a secure option for our businesses, but it’s a progressive step in ensuring the development of a strong, competitive region. We are not alone in this vision. We share support with labor groups, top regional business executives, and minority, civic and environmental organizations. . . .

Timothy Sheehy represents the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Roger Caron represents Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and Todd Battle is with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.

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