Over the years, Madison Metro has had frequent budget woes, forcing it to raise fares or cut service. One proposed solution is to create a Regional Transit Authority. The independent body would manage mass transit for the city of Madison and its surrounding communities. More importantly, it would have its own taxing authority, making public transportation less dependent on city funds.
This week, Isthmus asked the mayoral candidates:
Do you support creating a Regional Transit Authority, with its own power of taxation?
This question is putting the cart before the horse. Any discussion about creation of an additional entity with taxation abilities is premature, when Madison already owns an existing transit system offering the most cost effective capability of expanding into a regional system.
I believe we need to focus on Metro, before any support for another taxing entity is discussed. In particular we need to look at expansion of park and ride lots/ramps, express service from major points in the city and county, expansion of services to surrounding communities thru contracts with other municipalities or the county, and the use of vans and smaller buses.
It is premature to ask about supporting the creation of another taxation entity that is undefined and may reduce ridership on our existing Metro system.
With Dane County facing 100,000 more cars on our streets in the next two decades, we need to consider all the options and a regional transit authority should be in the mix. Under my administration, the objective pavement ratings for Madison streets have improved each of the last four years and we've increased city support for the bus system by 35%. I wouldn't do anything to place our streets or bus programs in jeopardy, but a more regional approach to transportation does make sense and it needs to be explored.
I enthusiastically support the creation of a Regional Transit Authority with its own power of taxation. There are many benefits that such an entity would bring to the greater Madison area. Most important, the authority would ensure that financial resources would be distributed fairly across the transit service region.
As we anticipate significant growth in our area, it is important that we consider public transportation as an integral and key component of regional land use planning. In doing so, we broaden public input and can not only aim for an effective and efficient transit system, to service our growing needs and help reduce urban sprawl.
Further, a Regional Transit Authority would promote economic development through collaboration among municipalities in the Dane County region. An effective transit will help create and sustain jobs that pay living wages. This will promote the economic health of not only Madison but also the entire region.
Will Sandstrom No, not until both Washington's and Wisconsin's politicians have re-enacted the Franklin Roosevelt human progressive tax, of up to 94%. It was a humane tax act of 1944-1961. It paid for the cost of World War II and got America out of debt and out of running yearly deficits.
So today, under humane progressive taxation -- and adjusted for inflation -- those earning over $200 million would participate in keeping America strong, and humane, by gladly paying at a 94% tax rate. And the trillions of dollars in added revenues Washington would get would be sent back to the states and cities, as occurred in 1944-1961. These monies would help states, counties, and cities pay for decent schools, medical care, and transportation, as occurred in 1944-1961.
Now under Bush there is no progressive tax system. The upper middle class and rich pay at rates as low as 1%. They are not [paying] their responsible share in supporting the greatest nation on earth, America, a nation that gives everyone with drive the opportunity to get rich.