Wednesday, September 6, 2017

GOP lawmakers' last-minute dart affirms anti-Milwaukee bias

I'd warned in the opening sentence of a blog post yesterday about last-minute GOP budget-writing mischief - - "We'll see what happens as night falls on Madison and budget-dealing-in-the-dark can take hold..." - - and the anti-Milwaukee Republicans did just that by following their anti-urban playbook,

A last-minute financial obstruction thrown by GOP budget-writers yesterday at the City of Milwaukee's streetcar and home rule powers (and not for the first time) made perfect sense inside the right-wing echo chamber and fossil-fuel/road-building funding combine that passes for a major political party these days.

With the city streetcar finally guided past years of Republican and suburban blockades, and the system's 2018 opening projected on tracks being laid down 
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as we speak, what better time could these city-haters have picked than right now when the city is also writing its 2018 budget to use the state budget to sabotage the project anew with only-in-Milwaukee legal restrictions on transit or local development funds to pay for some streetcar operations?

There is no difference between using such funds to 'operate' the highways - - from plowing to patrolling to repairing - - and using them to operate the streetcar, but this is the underlying right-wing Republican double-standard that has squashed rail transit in Milwaukee and statewide, especially under Walker, for years.

In fact, Walker used this ploy to justify refusing $810 million in federal funds to build the entire Milwaukee-Madison Amtrak extension by claiming the state could not afford to pay the annual operating costs - - which he then vastly over-stated - - $7.5-to-$10 million annually when the real number was about $750,000 - - thus continuing an unbalanced, rail-hostile transportation spending imbalance that overwhelmingly diverts federal dollars to highways and away from transit of all kinds.

While an estimated 30% of Milwaukee residents do not have access to a car - - thus to jobs and housing - - and many younger millennials and seniors choose transit over car ownership.

Again, the legislators' partisan move makes perfect sense if you're in the GOP fringe because that piece of the electorate and the legislators it has sent to Madison through grotesquely-rigged gerrymandered redistricting needs for its political and emotional satisfaction to see Wisconsin's only major, majority-minority city wrestle with a monkey-wrenched budget that produces high-fives in Milwaukee's GOP-dominated conservative suburbs and partisan caucus chambers in Madison.

And if you are one of these anti-city legislators, what more effective way is there for you to distract attention from your years of transportation planning and fiscal failures that even with total control of state government has brought your Cadillac-level highway expansion in the Zoo Interchange to an embarrassing stall - - bad planning and budgeting failures which also took River Hills GOP State Senator Alberta Darling's billion-dollar+-separate-boondoggle near Miller Park off the table - - than meddling with a Milwaukee system that is common across the country as a development tool and transportation method but which car-rich people in River Hills or Oconomowoc Lake or Germantown can easily and ideologically ignore.

The GOP suburban far-right has for years been twisting Milwaukee's budgets for political reasons, especially obstructing modern transit which makes the city attractive to residents who want an alternative to suburban isolation and its interstate highway commutes.

Especially Republicans in thrall to Scott Walker who spent his time in Milwaukee County Executive trying unsuccessfully to hamstring keep the city awhile using his taxpayer-paid position, offices and staff as springboards to the Governor's Mansion.

This proposed budget, which Walker will eagerly sign, is Walker at his divide-and-conquer worst.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Simply sickening. And how many of the car-less in Milwaukee can even consider that the Foxconn facility (or Amazon's distribution center) might offer job opportunities? Those legislators' can't mask any of this with their pro-growth rhetoric.