MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - U.S. House Democrat Gwen Moore is trying to halt the proposed commuter train from Milwaukee to Kenosha – at least until Milwaukee’s bus system solves its financial problems.
The Milwaukee congresswoman tried and failed recently to drop the long-debated commuter train from the federal transportation spending package for the next fiscal year. But Moore did manage to approve $1 million in federal money to fix and replace Milwaukee County buses, and to let transit systems use their equipment funds for operating costs.
The county bus system faces a $10 million budget shortfall next year, and Moore says the deficit needs to be fixed before a commuter train can be considered. The Regional Transit Authority voted in May to seek federal money for the commuter line, which would link Milwaukee and Racine to trains that go to Chicago.
Supporters hope to get federal money to pay for two-thirds of the line. The state would cover the rest, along with an $18 tax on car rentals. But opponents are against any tax hikes. And there’s an advisory referendum in Racine County this fall on the question of new taxes for public transit.
Four communities in western Kenosha County also have similar referendums. The RTA has the power to adopt the car rental tax. But rental car companies are fighting it, and there’s a bill in Congress to ban such taxes nationally.