VOS: Sales Tax Increase Not a Solution for Transit Woes


Robin J. Vos

State Representative • 63rd Assembly District • Racine County


For Further Information Contact: September 8, 2009

Rep. Robin Vos

(608) 266 9171

Sales Tax Increase Not a Solution for Transit Woes

Madison…After months of inner-party strife over how to keep KRM commuter rail afloat, Governor Doyle introduced a plan today to increase the sales tax in Milwaukee County and break apart the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority into smaller pieces to avoid continual battles between factions throughout the three-county region. Rep. Vos (R-Caledonia) says neither the tax hike nor the new structure would be necessary if Democrats would simply focus on transit priorities.

“The Milwaukee bus system is in peril and it needs to be fixed,” said Vos. “But the fight over how to fund it stems from stretching the money too thin for projects like KRM that aren’t financially viable.”

Vos, a staunch advocate for referenda in the case of sales tax increases, says this new hike will be placed on families at a time when they can least afford it. Doyle says the increase has been approved by the voters. Vos disagrees, saying a new referendum should be required because of the current economy and because the previous question was substantially different - stipulating some of the revenue be directed toward park funding and emergency medical services.

“When the families of Milwaukee face record unemployment and have been beaten down by the effects of the current recession, we should not be taxing them more,” explained Vos. “Rather than spending $50 million on new trains, Governor Doyle should have placed a higher priority on Milwaukee transit to avoid this new tax.”

Vos says it’s unfortunate that Doyle is more interested in figuring out how to pay for a new commuter rail system that will probably cost much more than projected, require higher tax subsidies down the road, and likely won’t serve the transit needs of the majority of the region.

“It’s typical government at work,” said Vos. “Ignore the broken program, expand another piece of the program, and then raise taxes to fix the broken part when it gets to a near-emergency situation.”

Vos continued: “Now is not the time to expand our transit system, we need to work to fix what’s broken with existing dollars and greater efficiencies. The tax increases will continue to get bigger as the projects get bigger.”