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Governor's Budget will Hurt Transit

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ESTHER 920-216-0891

For Immediate Release February 21, 2013
For More Information Contact: Stephanie Gyldenvand, 920-216-0891
Penny Robinson, 920-364-0079

Governor pits transit against education and health care and
proposes continued funding cut

Members of the faith community were shocked when in his budget address on February 20, Governor Scott Walker spoke of increased funding for transportation infrastructure while saying nothing about his plans for public transit.  From reading the budget, we learn the rest of the story. In the Governor's proposal, public transit would see another cut from the previous budget amounting to $23.6 million less in operating assistance.  Additionally, Governor Walker proposes that transit funding be moved from the designated transportation fund to the general fund in 2014, where it will take away revenue from other programs such as education and health care. 

This proposal will have great ramifications across the state, especially on Wisconsinites who depend on transit to get to work, the senior population that is aging in place, and those with disabilities who seek self-sufficiency.  To think that transit systems and paratransit are not “transportation” is absurd!  Governor Walker is sending a clear message to transit users that they do not matter and that their mobility is not a priority for Wisconsin.

40-50% of all transit rides in Wisconsin are taken by people going to work (including paratransit service). With gas prices hovering near record levels and funding for road building set to increase, we encourage the Joint Committee on Finance and members of the legislature to maintain transit funding in the state budget so that Wisconsin workers can get to work.

What’s even more shocking is that the move to pull transit from the designated transportation fund comes just before the state is set to take a vote that would amend the state constitution making the designated transportation fund unable to be used for purposes other than transportation.  It is clear that the current leadership is determined to build roads and bridges at the cost of transit and the many other programs in the general fund.

The Governor’s budget is in direct contradiction with the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission, which called for increased for transit assistance coming from the state transportation fund (report released in January: and the findings of a study commissioned by the WI DOT: These reports show how transit boosts the economy and connects people to jobs. We must have a budget that expands, not limits this effectiveness.

Governor Walker said in his address that he aims to build up infrastructure to expand the economy and create more jobs.  Clearly he wants transportation for some people, jobs for some people, infrastructures for some people and he is willing to leave others stranded! 

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