Should Gov. Scott Walker succeed in eliminating collective bargaining for public employees, it could cost Madison Metro $7 million in federal funding -- 14% of its $50 million annual budget.
The federal government requires that "employee protections, commonly referred to as 'protective arrangements' ... must be certified by the Department of Labor and in place, before federal transit funds can be released to a mass transit provider."
Says Madison Metro general manager Chuck Kamp, "It will have an impact, a potentially devastating impact, on our budget."
In 2010, Wisconsin transit systems received $60.9 million from the federal government, including $21.3 million that went to Milwaukee County and $7.1 million that went to Madison. Milwaukee County contracts with a private company for transit services and would not lose its funds.
That's not the case with Madison, which has a public bus system and uses federal money for operational costs and to buy buses. City Attorney Michael May says the city is "hoping" it can keep its funding even if Walker's bill passes, because it just signed new labor contracts through 2012. "But we don't know whether that will be sufficient to satisfy the Department of Labor," says May.
Kamp says one option for making up lost money could be from the Regional Transit Authority, which was formed last year and has the ability to levy up to a half-cent sales tax, potentially collecting as much as $34 million a year.
But guess what? Republicans are eying legislation to repeal RTAs, too.