May 04, 2011
Supervisor Melissa Sargent: 608.220.2273 Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein: 608.219.8127
County Board

Dane County Board Supervisors Melissa Sargent and Dianne Hesselbein are speaking out against the repeal of Regional Transportation Authority enabling statutes.  They point out that the statewide removal of RTA’s eliminates the ability of Wisconsin counties to assess and deal with increasing transportation costs and challenges.

On Tuesday May 3, the State of Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 in a straight partisan vote to kill all Regional Transit Authorities (RTA’s) within Wisconsin. The motion was made by Republican Assembly Co-Chair Robin Vos who stated, “RTA’s are undemocratic and unaccountable.”

“With gas prices that are over $4.00 a gallon and rising, Dane County owes it to our residents to be forward thinking and provide affordable transportation options for our residents - including improving and expanding bus routes into our outlying communities” states Dane County Supervisor Melissa Sargent, (District 18,  on Madison’s north side.) 

Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein agrees. “My constituents were looking forward to voting on whether or not to approve a .05 percent sales tax for transportation opportunities,” she said.  “The Dane County RTA is effectively determining what mix of transportation options will best suit the families of our community. But now the Republicans on the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee are taking away the right of Dane County citizens to vote on this important community issue.”  Hesselbein (District 9)  represents part of the City of Middleton and part of Madison’s west side.

Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and is a Dane County RTA governing board member, adds: “Since taking office in January, majority Republicans have undertaken a concerted effort to kill transit in Wisconsin. Eliminating RTA’s is just another step. Their hostility towards public transit will make it difficult and more costly for many of our neighbors to get to their jobs.”

“In order for Dane County to remain competitive and encourage job creation we must identify and provide the transportation our residents and their employers need.” Supervisor Sargent notes. “RTA’s voted on by the public are the best organization to accomplish this task” she continues.  “Getting people efficiently to work should not be a partisan issue - we should be acting in the best interests of our citizens.”

The Vos motion passed by the Joint Finance Committee on May 3, 2011 repeals the authority of the affected local governments to create RTAs in the Chequamegon Bay, Chippewa Valley, Dane County and Southeastern regions, and repeals statutory references to the RTAs. The motion also specifies that 10 days after the budget bill is published, the Chequamegon, Chippewa Valley and Dane County RTAs cannot impose or  use taxes; the Southeast RTA cannot impose a vehicle rental fee; and the counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine must begin "winding down" RTA activities and complete the process by the time the authority is to be dissolved.

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