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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hines, others lobby for transit sales tax

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines Jr. joined business and labor leaders Tuesday in urging state lawmakers to approve legislation expanding the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority and authorizing a 0.5% Milwaukee County sales tax for transit.

"The current financing strategy is obsolete and can no longer sustain our system," Hines said of property tax support for the Milwaukee County Transit System. "Our transit system is desperately in need of help."

At a news conference in the City Hall Rotunda, two days before a hearing by the Assembly Transportation Committee, Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor, construction trade union leader Lyle Balistreri, Milwaukee Area Technical College faculty union leader Michael Rosen and Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board Chairman John Kissinger said public transit is crucial to connect workers to jobs.

They and Hines recited the statistics: 52% of county bus riders don't have a valid driver's license; 75% have no other form of transportation; 43% ride the bus to work; and 42% of residents below the poverty line don't have access to a car. Cheri McGrath, a blind Wauwatosa resident, added that unemployment is 75% among the disabled, who largely rely on transit.

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