Monday, December 24, 2007

Gov. Doyle Needs To Save County Bus Line No. 9

With billions in transportation funding available for state projects, Gov. Jim Doyle needs to tell WisDOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi to find $100,000 to keep Route No. 9 operating in 2008.

The department's 2007-09 budget is $5.9 billion, records show. Somewhere in that document there is a discretionary $100,000. There has to be. There's no budget that big that's that tight.

Or he needs to jawbone and force the bone-headed county executives - - Scott Walker in Milwaukee and Dan Vrakas in Waukesha - - who, along with the businesses that employ the bus riding workers declined to work out a cost-sharing agreement to keep this bus route operating.

How many of those businesses have received public subsidies, cheap government revenue bonds, taxpayer-paid amenities, like streets, lights and sewer, or other public payments?

And I'm not suggesting received them inappropriately.

It's just time to give something back.

In actuality, whether it's the M-7, or candidates' promises, or lofty editorials wish-lists, when you measure true regionalism in hard dollars, there's precious little behind all the rhetoric and gratuitous back-slapping that masquerades for regional policy-making if in actuality, $100,000 is too much to identify and commit to support 70 wage-earners.

Seventy workers and their families depend on this bus route that begins on the Northwest side of Milwaukee and delivers workers into Waukesha County, and is now scheduled to shut down January 1, 2008.

Happy New Year, you modestly-paid Milwaukee workers!

If WisDOT could find $21.9 million to commit to build an interchange to serve shoppers heading to an as-yet-to-be-approved upscale shopping mall at Pabst Farms in Western Waukesha County, the state can certainly find less than one-half of one percent of that amount in the same regional transportation budgeting for a bus line to keep these everyday Milwaukeans working in eastern Waukesha County.


For at least seventy jobs.

At a time when the state is well into a $6.5 billion dollar freeway expansion and rebuilding plan, with no transit improvements, in the same overall region.

Whether you're talking about the $6.5 billion for bigger and better highways, or the $5.9 billion for state transportation spending statewide in the next two years, $100,000 amounts to mere pennies in comparison to save Route No. 9.

It's within the Governor's power to do it. From an economic and workforce retention perspective, it's the right thing to do.

Everybody wins and nobody loses.

And there is only a week left to get it done.

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