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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel edited version, published May 14, 2007
KRM endorsers list, by TransitNOW
Amalgamated Transit Union International
Nat'l Assoc'n for Advancement of Colored People
Unedited text submitted to Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel for "Morning Mail publication.
Jerry Ann Hamilton, President
Richard Riley, President
Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 998
KRM and Buses: Act NOW or Risk Loss
For over a decade, visionaries and experts have worked diligently to create lasting economic advantage in southeast Wisconsin. The time has come to reach for the prize that weve worked so hard for: Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Commuter Rail.
KRM is the most powerful tool to energize our regions economy that we will likely see for a generation. Unfortunately, this chance for a brighter economic future is frightfully close to slipping through our fingers.
KRM would use an existing railroad to connect 9 Wisconsin cities with Chicago and 24 northeast Illinois communities. This dynamic Milwaukee-Chicago corridor includes an existing job market of 1 million within 1 mile of the 34 stations, and 2 million in population within 3 miles of the stations. Easy access to that broad marketplace and workforce is a major draw for business, retail, and residential expansion. Economists from across the nation see this corridor as a golden opportunityand KRM a key to unlock its potential to build wealth in our communities. A direct connection to metro Chicago will create business, real estate, and job opportunities. And, will provide a major tax revenue expansion to help support schools, safety programs, parks, and other programs.
Business and community leaders, and the public are saying loud and clear: KRM makes sense. Its an investment we need to make. Of the nearly 800 public comments recently submitted for KRM, 93% supported KRM and dedicated local funding.
Why are we close to losing KRM?
KRM must meet a critical deadline in June when its application for federal funding is due. This is where elected officials play an important role. The federal funding application must identify a funding source for the local share of operating and capital costs, and it must be enabled by the state legislature.
But, KRM cannot move forward in the Legislature until there is local consensus on the funding source. Currently, the only viable option is the $13 rental car fee increase recommended by the Regional Transit Authority. Some Milwaukee leaders support the idea of the rental car fee, but insist that local transit funding be shifted off property taxes to a new funding source that is attached to KRMs funding. A new dedicated funding source for transit is certainly needed. Milwaukee leaders that are advocating for a dedicated local transit funding source should move forward with their proposals, and move KRM forward as well.
It is time to create the win-win that the entire region so desperately needs.
Clearly, we must move forward on both KRM and local transit funding by endorsing the $13 rental car fee for KRM, and immediately begin planning and consensus-building to avert a projected transit funding crisis in Milwaukee.
We urge our elected leaders to support the $13 rental car fee as a local funding source for KRM, and actively work together to insert the rental car fee into the State budget. We must ensure that this once-in-a-generation opportunity is not squandered. We must take hold of our future so we can become something greater.
With KRM we all win without KRM we all lose. The time to act is NOW.
|Milwaukee Branch, NAACP
2745 N. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
phone: 414 / 562 -1000
|Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 998
734 N. 26th Street
Milwaukee WI 53212
phone: 414 / 342 - 4300