Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public Policy Forum Poll Shows Milwaukee County Support For Streetcars; Wider Approval For Some Transportation Tax Increases

That good news in "The People Speak" poll supports the downtown rail system moving forward under Mayor Tom Barrett, and might give pause to County Exec Scott Walker, the leader, along with talk radio hosts, of the opposition to city rail.

There is opposition in the out-counties, to which I say: "ride it when you are in the City of Milwaukee, and have a nice day."

So there is a greater level of support for adding rail in Milwaukee than you'd think if you get your news and commentary about such things from conservative talkers.

Other polling highlights - - some taxes aimed at transportation improvements have solid support:

A majority of people in the region would support a one-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax for transportation purposes - - again, a finding that goes against the conservative anti-taxing narrative - - though there is less support for a two-cent increase, or for toll roads, either.

And a majority of people in all the region's counties favor a half-cent increase in the sales tax to get Milwaukee's bus system on a solid footing.

From the poll conclusions:

"...support for using the sales tax to fund improvements in the Milwaukee County bus system is much stronger (Chart 11). A majority of all respondents and all subgroups agreed with the statement, “A half-cent sales tax in Milwaukee County is the best option for funding the Milwaukee County bus system.”

And this I found surprising and reassuring: in the region, only 30% of respondents say that the state of the transportation system is holding back the region's growth.

In other words: the sky is not falling, as some would have you believe, and taxes, selectively applied, generate support for transportation improvements, including city rail and the Milwaukee County transit system.

These are among the fascinating and generally under-reported findings in this latest Public Policy Forum poll.

You can read more here.

And here is more about how the poll is conducted, from the Forum's webpages:

"The People Speak is a tracking poll and is conducted at regular intervals throughout the year. The People Speak is designed and analyzed by the Public Policy Forum in partnership with CUIR [Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee] and The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee and is funded by The Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation and the Argosy Foundation.

"For the complete results of the June poll, as well as previous polls, please visit the poll's homepage at: www.peoplespeakpoll.org"


Anonymous said...

Heartening news which all new urbanists and environmentalists should applaud. Thanks for bringing the good news to your blog readers, those readers who have made your blog the number one, most read blog in the state!

enoughalready said...

WUWM's "Lake Effect" had a good segment on this yesterday. But James, why would you find reassuring the fact that only 30% believe transportation issues are holding back the growth of the region? Realistically, shouldn't that number be much higher? Isn't the growth and development angle the one we need to sell to make transit successful? It worked in Charlotte.

James Rowen said...

Well, enoughalready, let me clarify what I meant.

As you put it, I agree.

Where I was coming from? The constant refrain around here that our highway system needs rebuilding because it does not have a footprint wide enough for commerce and commuters.

Anon Jim said...

James - in regards to the 60% support for the $.01/gal increase funding option, was there an option of no additional funding needed?

Looking at the options listed in Table 9, the $.01/gal increase appears to be the least objectionable and may explain its popularity.

In addition where is the funding option of “Return the $1.2 Billion Jim Doyle stole from the transportation fund”?

As far as the $0.5 increase in Milwaukee County’s sales goes, why wouldn’t your average citizen living in the surrounding counties be all for it – considering I, like many, spend as little as possible of my hard earned money in Milwaukee County heck raise your sales tax to 20% for all I care.

That just means more people will flee Milwaukee to spend money in our counties.

By the way you neglected to mention that a majority of the respondents are against the KRM, against the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison car speed train, and are in favor of Wisconsin adopting immigrations laws similar to Arizona’s.

James Rowen said...

Of course, you are free to read the entire poll.

Anon Jim said...

As Mark Twain so accurately stated “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure” and as often the case polls by their structure and the interpretation of the response are used to do just that.

After reviewing the detailed poll questions and answers, the reason the $0.1 increase in the gas tax (from question #12 and shown in chart #10) was the most popular is that it is the least onerous response. The question is biased in and of itself by presuming a gas tax increase is required and not giving the option of a response of no gas tax increase needed.

Then that answer from question #12 is improperly matched up with question #13 and its responses, making it look like the overwhelmingly popular response to question #13 and as represented in chart #8.

Finally regarding your spin regarding the results of the question 16e, “The current transportation system in southeast Wisconsin is preventing the region’s economy from growing”. That 70% of the people responded indicating disagreement means they believe the current transportation system is ok as is.

You know the one based on roadways, cars, trucks, buses, etc. - your KRM, downtown streetcar, car speed train to Madison projects are not, repeat not, part of the current transportation system

In other words 70% of the people see no need for your various rail boondoggles.