Regional transit bill dead for now

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Transit |


From a story Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:

The special legislative committee charged with creating a regional transit authority bill is dead.

State Rep. Alvin Ott, chairman of the Legislative Council Special Committee on Regional Transportation Authority, on Tuesday informed the Joint Legislative Council by letter that he would not convene any more committee meetings.

Citing changes in political leadership, economic conditions and the projected $5.4 billion state budget deficit, Ott said it would not be prudent to set up a new taxing authority until the economy improves.

But Len Brandrup, a committee member and director of Kenosha’s Transportation Department, said the state can’t afford to wait any longer for an RTA bill.

“We have no choice but to get a bill this session,” he said. “We can’t fail. If we’re to remain competitive in terms of attracting business and economic development, the state puts itself at a distinct disadvantage by not acting.”

Brandrup said his biggest concern is that the committee was terminated for partisan reasons, and Ott’s letter confirms the concern.

“With the pending change in party control of the Assembly, the Committee no longer has the ‘built-in’ balance that I feel is necessary to cultivate an appropriate compromise on the policy questions the committee has been charged with addressing,” according to the letter attributed to Ott.

Such comments echoed remarks made by state Rep. Robin Vos, the Racine Republican who last week said he doubts bipartisan discussions of RTAs could proceed with Democrats in control of the Legislature.

Neither Ott, Vos nor state Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale — the committee’s three GOP legislative members — was available for comment Wednesday.

“We need all sides at the table,” Brandrup said. “To make this a partisan issue is a shortsighted approach. It’s not a wedge issue.”

Despite the conflict, other committee members said the committee’s demise doesn’t mean the end of an RTA bill.

Read other stories on regional transit authorities.

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