Wisconsin Stalemate Imperils Transit Funding

All over the news, one can see the massive sea of protest currently befalling the state of Wisconsin in a dispute between workers and the governor. Most news outlets have discussed how it is a dispute between the governor’s cuts and workers’ rights issues over things like collective bargaining. Governor Walker’s budget dealing impasse is problematic for public transit in Wisconsin because it “could remove that collective bargaining protection from transit workers, thereby risking $3.6 million in annual federal aid that Green Bay metro receives.”

The reason why this stalemate must be resolved is, if the U.S. is to move forward on transportation, then a robust and effective public transit system is essential. This stalemate, therefore, has the potential to cause problems for the Green Bay area especially if Federal funds for public transit are not allocated or awarded.

In particular, the “Green Bay Metro cannot provide the service it does if it loses federal funding, but ‘I don’t want people to panic and say we won’t have bus service. That’s not been decided. Things are dynamic.”

Indeed, the situation in Wisconsin is unfolding before our very eyes in a dynamic fashion. How the impasse will be resolved and what, if anything, it means for future public transportation funding in particular is also uncertain. What needs to be looked at are ways to resolve budgetary issues so that crucial funding for green transportation is not lost because of this impasse.

Without compromise and a path to move forward, therefore, things like green transportation can get imperiled. The lesson clearly coming out of Wisconsin clearly says something about the politically charged and vitriolic climate to the point that what should be bipartisan initiatives like investments in green transportation and infrastructure can get imperiled. Even though buses won’t necessarily stop running tomorrow in Green Bay, this impasse currently happening certainly has a degree of uncertainty associated with it.

The degree of uncertainty in Wisconsin should be something that environmentalists and transportation officials should be concerned about. If the dispute does not get resolved soon in terms of the collective bargaining issues with transit workers, that may mean loss of funding to public buses, metrorail, and transit generally for Wisconsin. For the U.S. to move forward with green transportation as a whole, it is clear that all public officials should come together to resolve this dispute in Wisconsin. Therefore, the dispute in Wisconsin is not something that should be shrugged off solely as an internal state matter. Funding for public transit should be a bipartisan effort and hopefully the dispute will be resolved soon so funding is not imperiled.

Article by Patrick Kenney, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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