Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hearing on Bill to Restrict funds for Milwaukee Trolley

Today, my bill (AB 562) to restrict state funds from going towards the Milwaukee Trolley was heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee. To learn more about this legislation, please see my testimony below.

AB 562 Testimony

December 8, 2015
Transportation Committee Public Hearing
Assembly Bill 562 

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, committee members. AB562 is a proactive bill that, if enacted, will prevent the new urban mass transit project, Milwaukee's streetcar, from adding undue stress on our already strained transportation budget.

My concern with this project originates, in part, from dubious statements by project supporters and leaders in the community, including Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy. In January, Mr. Murphy admitted that the streetcar is a risk, adding that “there is a risk in everything in life." While I was philosophically opposed to the funding of a new Bucks arena earlier this year, I was at least able to justify the financial benefits to my constituents. I have grave concerns that the risks of the Milwaukee Streetcar’s future operating costs far outweigh any benefits. While the official Milwaukee streetcar website does not state an expectation for state funding, we are all aware that government programs, agencies and projects seldom function as intended and are often fraught with cost overruns.

On October 26, Mayor Tom Barrett stated that the "…streetcar will bring thousands of residents and visitors to major attractions and new developments on Milwaukee's lakefront." I certainly hope that this will be the case and wish the city the best of luck on this endeavor. However, because I do not expect the streetcar to be a self-sustaining experiment funded only by fares, advertising, federal grants and city parking revenues, I want to ensure that the rest of the state is not on the hook if unexpected operational costs materialize. It is important to note that this bill will not prevent the City of Milwaukee from continuing this project.

This legislation, if passed, will be a well-deserved safety net for our state taxpayers.

We should remind ourselves that state taxpayers have already contributed generously to the streetcar project with over $69 million in federal taxpayer handouts to make this project a reality. Wisconsin has a transportation funding problem that must be addressed through efficiency measures, Department cuts and real reforms, including swapping federal and state funds on road projects. Wisconsin legislators must ensure that we do not place any further strains on our state transportation fund by adding one more mass transit entity to the balance sheet. This will certainly be the case if revenues do not meet expectations, rendering the Milwaukee streetcar fiscally unsustainable.

In short, this bill will:

1.   1. Expand section 85.066 (3) in statute. This statute was added in the budget to ensure that Milwaukee County could not be responsible for operating costs of the streetcar unless reimbursed by the City. This bill takes this budget provision one step further to ensure the entire state is protected from bearing streetcar costs.

2.   2. Ensure that money provided for urban, mass transit operating assistance program aids ($106 million in 2014) may not be used for the operation of a rail fixed guideway transportation system in a first class city. It should be noted that Milwaukee anticipates the system to cost $2.65 million per year to operate the 2.5 mile system.

3.   3. The portion of statute (85.062) that provides state expenditures for any project resulting from the Milwaukee Downtown Transit Connector Study will be deleted. There has never been funding available for any potential projects resulting from this study.

Capitol Christmas Tree

Last Friday, Governor Walker lit the Capitol Christmas tree, officially kicking off the Christmas season. Below are some photos of the tree and how it comes to life in the rotunda. This year's theme is sports, as seen in the photo of the ornament close-up below.










Governor's Mansion Tours

It's hard to believe that the Christmas season is again upon us! If you've never visited the Executive Residence here in Madison, I encourage you to make your plans to do so this season. The residence is beautifully decorated and is a great, free family activity! Below are the remaining dates and times available for walking tours of the residence.

Wednesday, December 9th from Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 10th from Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 12th from 9:00 a.m. – Noon

The Executive Residence is located at 99 Cambridge Road on Madison’s Northeast side in the Village of Maple Bluff. Parties of 20 or more are asked to call ahead for a reservation. Street parking is available outside the residence gates and handicapped parking is available upon request.

Non-perishable food items will be collected in support of Second Harvest food bank of Southern Wisconsin, and warm winter items collected in support of Tourism’s Big Bundle Up Campaign.

To learn more about the mansion, click here.

District Events

Here are some events coming up in the district. Be sure to get out and enjoy these great events and support our community!

Tuesday, December 8 - Thursday, Dec. 10

Toys for Tots
Campbellsport Elementary School
7:45 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
The Campbellsport Elementary School student council will be assisting the Salvation Army this year for Christmas by running a "Toys for Tots" campaign from December 1st - December 10th. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve/Salvation Army which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. This year CES will be a drop-off point for the Toys for Tots collection. If you cannot drop things off between the above times, please contact Thea Schmidt, fifth grade teacher/student council advisor at 533-8032 (ext. 6014) and she will assist you in receiving your donation.

Thursday, December 10

Holiday Crafts for Grown-ups
Jack Russell Memorial Library Community Room, Hartford
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Three self-paced crafts will be offered free of charge. No prior registration required. 

Saturday, December 12

Campbellsport Chamber Christmas Celebration
Corner of Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Avenue
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive via fire truck between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Children are invited to meet Santa and walk to CHS around 10 a.m. From 10 - noon there will be a Christmas celebration at the High School in the commons/gym/balcony area.

Saturday, December 12 - Sunday, Dec. 13

Wade House Christmas
Wade House, W7965 State Hwy 23 Greenbush, 53026
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

"Guests will experience the magic of a mid-19th-century Christmas celebration at the Wade House stagecoach hotel. Yankee and German holiday traditions, including rooms bedecked with fresh evergreen garlands, period crafts and games for young and old, stories from yesteryear and horse-drawn wagon rides will make for a memorable experience.
The festivities continue in the new Wade House Visitor Center and Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum, where seasonal decor, live music and live theatre will help to spread holiday cheer.  On both days, food and beverages will be available at the Butternut Cafe, and live music will entertain guests." - Wade House website

Your Feedback is Important!

As always, I hope this information is helpful to you. Please know that I welcome your feedback, questions and concerns. To contact me, you can call my office toll-free at (888) 534-0059, or email me at Rep.Kremer@legis.wisconsin.gov.

I look forward to hearing from you!





If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please email me your request. All unsubscribe requests must include the email address at which the unwanted mail is being received. For example, you may receive e-mail at a forwarded address that is not in our database. We can only unsubscribe recorded emails. Thank you!

 State Capitol, Room 17 West

P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
(888) 534-0059