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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Budget panel votes to repeal transit authorities; KRM line likely in trouble

From an article by Patrick Marley and Don Walker in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

It also eliminates state funding for bike paths

Madison — The Legislature's budget committee voted Tuesday to repeal the state's regional transit authorities, including one responsible for a proposed commuter rail line from Milwaukee to Kenosha.

The Legislature gave four areas the ability to create RTAs in 2009, when Democrats were in charge. Republicans now run the Legislature, and on a 12-4 party-line vote the Joint Finance Committee voted to reverse course and eliminate the RTAs. The measure will go to the Legislature as part of the state budget once the committee finishes its work in the coming months.

After the 2009 law passed, local officials created the Southeastern RTA and the Dane County RTA, but the Chippewa Valley RTA and Chequamegon Bay RTA have not been formed.

The Southeastern RTA, or SERTA, is responsible for the proposed KRM Commuter Link rail line. It has the authority to impose an $18 per vehicle fee on rental cars but has not done so.

SERTA had $1.27 million in its coffers as of August. If it were disbanded, the money would be split equally by Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties unless the counties agree otherwise.

The committee also voted to go along with Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to eliminate a $100 million bonding program for capital transit projects in southeastern Wisconsin and to eliminate all state funding - $5 million over two years - for bike and pedestrian paths.

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