January 23, 2012
Getting Wisconsinites to Work
Democrats Introduce Bill That Reinvests in Wisconsin’s Public Transit System
MADISON – Today a group of Democratic state legislators introduced the Workforce Mobility Act, legislation to provide workers in communities across Wisconsin dependable, accessible transportation to their jobs.
The bill’s authors, Sen. Jessica King (D–Oshkosh), Sen. Chris Larson (D–Milwaukee), Rep. Sandy Pasch (D–Whitefish Bay), and Rep. Gordon Hintz (D–Oshkosh) encourage swift action on the Workforce Mobility Act, which seeks to invest in our workers and local businesses by restoring dramatic cuts made to our public transit infrastructure.
“Restoring funding for transit that serves our workforce needs should be a priority for our state,” said Rep. Hintz.
In his budget, Governor Walker opted to decrease funding for public transit by 10 percent and eliminate $77 million from shared revenue to local governments in order to fund $2.3 billion in tax breaks for large corporations. As a result, local governments have been forced to shift funding, raise fares, change or eliminate routes, and evaluate position eliminations.
“Transit plays a vital role in fostering economic growth throughout the region and state, so I was extremely disappointed with the short-sighted cuts Walker’s budget made to this critical resource,” said Rep. Pasch. “This legislation will help ensure that our communities will be able to provide an effective and reliable avenue for individuals to access jobs, work, school and other vital services.”
“Of the 140,000 rides provided daily by the Milwaukee County Transit Systems, 39 percent are commuters traveling to and from work and for many this is their only feasible transit option,” said Sen. Larson. “The demand for viable transportation options is clearly there and we owe it to our workers and local businesses to provide the necessary support to our public transit infrastructure.”
The Workforce Mobility Act seeks to prevent further cuts by reinvesting in our state’s public transit infrastructure to ensure that our family, friends and neighbors are able to commute to and from work. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a recent re-estimate of the transportation fund indicates that an additional $32.9 million remains available for use. This bill would use $9.6 million of this funding to restore the cuts to our mass transit systems to ensure that our workforce can get to their jobs each day.
“With families struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we should do is make it harder to get to work,” said Sen. King. “Fare increases and route changes have direct, negative impacts on workers and the businesses that rely on them. The funding to restore these cuts is available and I expect bipartisan support for this common sense measure.”
The Workforce Mobility Act is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship and is expected to be formally introduced on Monday, January 30.