Monday, July 14, 2008

Scott Walker: Anti-Bus, Anti-Environment, Anti-Business

This past weekend, the Appleton Post-Crescent ran a story about the local public transit system there. The gist of the story was that Appleton and the surrounding communities would be chipping in to cover a shortfall in the budget, caused in a large part by the soaring price of gasoline.

Unlike Milwaukee County's transit system, but like most the transit systems of most cities, Valley Transit is experiencing a boom in ridership:
Wetter said she is sure the record-high cost of fuel is partly responsible for a 6.8 percent increase in fixed route ridership through the first five months of 2008, and a 5.6 percent hike in fixed route revenue.

"We had a 13 percent increase in ridership in April, about the same time gasoline prices jumped up," she said.

The paper also included a factoid box that had these stats:
  • Fare revenue: $307,069, up 5.6 percent
  • Ridership (total paid trips, including school students): 429,104, up 6.8 percent
  • Rack'n'Roll program usage (use of bus-mounted bicycle racks by Vally Transit riders): 4,281, up 79 percent

The article also mentioned that this year, they had no cut in routes and no increase in fares (although an increase is expected for 2009). In contrast, Scott Walker cut the routes, raised fares, and vetoed a proposal to put bike racks on buses here. Fortunately, the Milwaukee County Board was able to restore most of the routes, minimize the fare hikes and overrode the veto.

It goes without saying that mass transit goes a long way to cut air pollution, as well as cut the demand for foreign oil.

Likewise, common sense should suffice that not everyone can or chooses to drive a car, and the bus is their only way to get to and from work. Many employers keep that in mind when choosing a location for their business, and try to find a site close to a transit line.

But Valley Transit Riders, and their employers, get another benefit that Scott Walker is denying Milwaukee County residents: a tax break. The Federal government has passed a law that allows employers to give payroll breaks to the employees, and in turn, get tax breaks themselves. There are a number of tax incentives that employers can choose from, and they can be found in this pdf on page 10.

Scott Walker's backers in talk radio and in the blogosphere support him no matter what he does and no matter how bad things get, as long as he keeps his inane and inaccurate rhetoric of holding the line on taxes. Too bad they don't want to actually get a tax break, like the people in the Fox Valley are getting.

I guess the conservatives upstate just have a bit more common sense than the local variety does.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I hope you will seriously consider putting these same thoughts into a letter to the editor of the Post-Crescent, because I think more of the state needs to learn about the way Scott Walker views transit -- and what a disaster his rigid ideological approach has been for Milwaukee County residents.