May 1, 2009

Rental car tax to pay for KRM line

Nearly 16 hours after their meeting was scheduled to start, state legislators voted Friday morning to pay for commuter rail through Racine County with a $16 rental car tax.

The gist: Sen. John Lehman got his cake and ate it too. Lehman fought against a sales tax increase to pay for the KRM commuter rail line to connect Kenosha to Milwaukee with stops in Racine and Caledonia. He convinced the Democratic-controlled committee to reconsider a rental car tax as an alternative to the sales tax.

The committee voted for the plan, approving the $16 rental car tax, which would be indexed annually to the consumer price index.

The Joint Finance Committee first voted to remove Racine and Kenosha from the regional transit authority included in Gov. Jim Doyle's budget. The committee voted to allow Milwaukee County to create a 1 percent sales tax to pay for transit, parks, cultural services and emergency medical services.

It also created a regional transit authority to manage KRM. The RTA would include Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties and use the rental car tax to pay for the rail line. The RTA, which would be appointed by mayors and County Board presidents (not County Executives - a move to prevent Scott Walker and Bill McReynolds from making appointments), could also issue up to $50 million in bonds.

Lehman told WisPolitics the compromise allowed communities to choose their own way to pay for commuter rail and buses.
"What we're seeing now is the result of communities making it very clear what they want to do in their own sweet way about transit" Lehman said.


  1. The Translator5/01/2009 6:42 AM

    John, Thank you for killing the sales tax. We dont agree on much, but you did good on this one!

  2. Insurance companies will now pass this cost along to their policy holders and in some cases insurance companies will no longer provide rental cars in their coverage. Nothing is free.

    After 5 years we will see all the economic benefits that the KRM will bring. You will not be able to hide from the results of lack there of. Will these same supporters demand that the KRM be killed if the promised results don't happen. I don't think so.

  3. John-

    This is very disappointing. "What we're seeing now is the result of communites making it very clear what they want to do in their own sweet way about transit" Lehman said."

    So much for regional transit - if we all do it our own way, it is NOT regional. For heaven's sake, John, if we had wanted this result, we could have sent a Republican to the Senate. We sent you because we wanted better than that.

  4. 6:49

    Its better then that the fed all ready said they would only surport a RTA that used a sales/gas tax to fund the RTA. So the way I understand it the RTA may exist but the Fed should keep to their word and not give up the cash. Without the cast and only able to sell I think 50 Million in bonds no KRM yest. With any luck a court challenge or two may help delay. Gives us time til 2010 when Madison goes back GOP.
    AS we wait lets turn to Milwaukee which will be the highest taxed county in Wisconsin and we will see more business leave and job loss. Prime example for Racine county to avoid.

  5. John has lost my vote.

    The point of an RTA is for the region to work together for mass transit.

    Also, all of you folks constantly complaining about property taxes should be dissapointed. The RTA would have taken the BUS off of your property taxes.

  6. I voted and supported John when he ran, but I will not do it again.

  7. 7:41

    and pushed up sales tax. But since the fed DOT said in writing that the KRM must be funded by basically a sales tax KRM is dead dead dead now Obama can do anything and simply print more money (after all whats a few hunderd million when your a trillion + in the hole/)and do it any way. Thank God in 2010 we can start taking this country back

  8. Not only did Lehman abandon KRM, he also just kissed the Racine bus system goodbye.

    If you're going to be against KRM John, just be against it. You are the worst kind of coward. Hide behind a funding source that won't work and that you know won't work so it looks like you did all you could.......all of which is your master plan to stay in office.

    Conservatives weren't going to vote for you anyway and now you just lost a whole lot of Democrat support. Add that to the list of your accomplishments.

    1. Killed KRM
    2. Killed the Racine Bus System
    3. Virtually ensured a Republican takes the next election.

    Pull a Specter and quit the party now before you do more damage.

  9. its a shame that john is not the same as he was in the he is just a middle-of-the-road politician.

  10. StopthemadnessNOW5/01/2009 9:36 AM

    As the old saying goes, "never watch how sausage and laws are made."

    This is a crummy compromise in many ways. Yes, it sort of ensures funding for KRM but it eliminates any chance/hope of regional cooperation.

    The balkanization of Southeastern Wisconsin has held this area back economically for years now and will continue to do so into the future. We simply can't afford to have a patchwork quilt of cities, towns, villages, sewer districts, water districts, fire districts, school districts, etc., etc., going off and doing their own thing. (Attn. conspiracy theorists, we're not advocating one-world government here.)

    Furthermore, if there is any place in which this area BADLY needs get its act together regionally, it's transportation. Unfortunately, the innate lack of leadership by both the Ds and the Rs (and Jim Doyle, too) ensures that it ain't gonna happen.

  11. Rees Roberts5/01/2009 10:27 AM

    Does Kenosha have funding with some sort of tax for KRM? Anyone know?

    Unless I am missing something, what is stopping a car rental agency from opening up shop just south of the Racine/Kenosha County line and rent cars from Kenosha instead of Racine?

    A lot of rentals go to people who need a car while their own car is in the shop for repair. Many of those shops are on the South side of Racine making the rental from Kenosha more than feasible.

    So the real result could be $16 less tax per rental and less than adequate funding for the KRM system. So, this is the answer? Hmmmm.

    Obviously if Kenosha would have the same rental tax my comment should ignored. But if I am correct, holy cow, KRM wouldn't have enough funding.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  12. hey can you guys lay off the 20 POINT FONT?

    makes look like crap.

    i'd like to tell friends and co workers to visit but it's really looking like a mess here.

  13. We have great regional cooperation and a great regional transportation system - our roads!
    Why bother with anything else.
    For all the money we spend on Racine BUS we could support a taxi system with reduced fares for the poor people.
    The RTA is just one more money sucker.
    When will we stop acting like sheep??

  14. "Sometimes a man just has to rise above principle." - Sen. Everett Dirksen

  15. Rees

    The rental car tax is NOT enough to fund KRM and the KRM backers know it,that is why they are not gloating over the "win" last night. With out the Federal money KRM will never realy get started, the Fed all ready said that only a sales tax or gas tax would give the KRT the backing it needs. So the money raised will go to pay consultants and board members you will not a cute train any time soon.
    Please how ever keep your eyes on Milwaukee county and how their train system will not get the riders but as well with the added tax money needed to fund the black hole cause only more business to leave and folks to lose jobs.

  16. Anon 10:27

    It's all a charade. Of course rental fees won't pay for the train. The fact that you have a train could even drive down the demand for rental cars potentially. This rental thing is a distraction.

    The problem is Lehman thinks you are stupid. He's at home praying that everyone looks at this and says that he tried. He didn't.

    Not to mention you may have also disqualified us from federal funding. Great idea John.

    The RTA was also intended to revitalize the bus system as well which is in dire need of help. It is funded by property taxes currently which is dumb. It does not take into account inflation and other factors that have been making property tax an unsustainable funding source.

    So now what? Well, we keep paying for the bus system with property tax. As costs increase, service decreases and fares go up. Lehman just sealed the deal on this continuing. It won't take long before the bus system totally fails.

    Not enough routes, fees too high, maintenance issues, etc, etc. There will be no money to fix these issues. The public will throw a fit when someone has to raise property taxes to keep this thing going.

    Shifting to sales tax would have generated more income, decreased property tax, and let visitors start helping with the cost of the train with their purchases (sales tax).

    People are missing the point that this wasn't only about the train, but transit in general.

    Add up for a moment, the cost of a 0.25% sales tax increase (with a maximum cap at 0.50%).

    Let's say that you spent $10,000 this year on items that qualified for sales tax (exclude groceries, etc). This isn't an unreasonable number. That's roughly $800 per month that you are spending on sales taxable items. Put that in the context of your own life for a reality check.

    OK - now multiply that $840 times 0.25% and you get $2/month in additional tax to help fund the train and bus system. You decide if that is too much of a burden. I personally don't think so.

    Combine that with property tax relief and it makes sense. The great part about the shift is that visitors help to fund the system instead of putting it all on the property owners. Not only that, but renters start contributing as well.

    If you can revitalize the area and it leads to more visitors, then you increase your revenue plain and simple. If you leave it as a property tax funded system, then you never get the dollar benefit of the increase in tourism, etc.

    Lehman, Mason and Vos just f'd this city royally and want your vote. Unbelievable.

  17. Some people are never happy. Trying to ram a bad decision down everyone's throats and that is what you get. There is a finite amount of money people. That means we have to be wise about our choices. If the train is such a great idea, then why do tax payers have to pay for it. Why don't all the riders pay for it? We already support so many things with our tax dollars. Thanks John for avoiding the sales tax. You have listened to the people.

  18. "You have listened to the people."

    Yep....the ones that didn't support you anyway.

    The same ones that want everything for free and don't want to pay for anything under any circumstances.

    The same ones that refuse to take a $2/month chance on attracting new business and jobs into Racine and want to see the bus system fail (all while reducing crime with less police services!)

    The same ones that never offer any solutions to anything but are more than willing to complain.

    Lehman and Mason are epic traitors to this city and their party.

  19. John has lost the votes of many people who were his biggest supporters and advocates.

    I am beyond dissapointed.

  20. Colt said...

    "money raised will go to...board members"

    the "board members" aka RTA Commision members, are not paid. Four members are concerned citizens who donate their time and the remaining three are employees of their respective municipalities They receive no compensation of any kind for serving on the RTA.

  21. Lehman should face a recall immediately.

    Conservatives won't come out and vote for him and the people most angry will be his own supporters. This could work.

    You want to throw Racine under your unfunded bus John? You put your job ahead of the people you are supposed to represent, the same ones that voted for you in the first place.

    You have failed Racine in the worst possible way, at the worst possible moment, and all out of your own selfishness. How disgusting and utterly disappointing. You're so concerned about your job? Well, I think you deserve to lose it.

  22. I feel so betrayed by Lehman. Something I never dreamed possible. Is there a strong, progressive candidate out there who can challenge him? I can't imagine EVER voting for him again (even though I'm traditionally NOT a one-issue voter). I will NEVER vote for Vos. And I certainly can't imagine sitting out an election. What to do, oh what to do. We need a new (D) candidate.

  23. It's a shame too. Lots of people would have really gone to bat for Lehman to back him up on this one. Had he shown courage, it would have been repaid to him with a really motivated grass roots re-election effort. We would have had a champion for progress.

    I'm sure there has to be someone else out there. When is he up for re-election?

  24. Dustin or Pete.....

    Can you get an interview with Lehman/Mason and some type of comment? I think these guys got some splainin to do.

  25. "Sen. John Lehman got his cake and ate it too."

    Yeah, I feel like this is a "let them eat cake" moment.

  26. Doesn't seen so hard to me...

    This is a sample recall petition form. It conforms to the statutory requirements for recall petitions. This form may be reproduced. The State Elections Board has determined that no disclaimer or other attribution statement is required on recall petitions.
    Registration - Before circulating a recall petition, the persons or committees seeking to recall an elected official must register with the appropriate filing officer indicating their intent to circulate a recall petition and the name of the officer to be recalled. Petitions for the recall of local election officials must state the reasons for the recall which relate to the official duties of the person to be recalled.
    Required Signatures - The number of signatures required to recall an elected official is specified in S. 9.10(1)(b), (c), Wis. Stats. The filing officer is required to determine and certify to any person the number of signatures required on a recall petition. It is recommended that a person seeking to recall elected officials consult with an attorney concerning the validity of signatures on recall petitions. S. 9.10(2)(e), Wis. Stats.
    Filing Officer - The recall petition shall be directed to the official with whom nomination papers or a declaration of candidacy for the office of the person to be recalled is filed.
    Jurisdiction - The name of the jurisdiction or district that the officeholder represents shall be placed on the recall petition, along with the name of the officeholder to be recalled, and the office held.
    Reasons for Recall - Recall petitions for elected officials representing city, village, town, and school district offices must state reasons for the recall which relate to the official duties of the official to be recalled. No statement of reason is required to initiate the recall of state, congressional, legislative, judicial, or county elected officials. The lines can be left blank.
    Signatures of Electors - Only qualified electors of the jurisdiction or district represented by the officeholder may sign the petition. Each elector’s municipality of residence must be listed on the petition, along with the mailing address, including any street, fire or rural route number, box number (if rural route) and street or road name. The Street & Number or Rural Route section for each elector’s address is split into two lines. The first line is for the street address. The second line is for the municipality for mailing purposes. The Municipality of Residence listed for each signing elector must clearly identify the town, village or city where the elector's voting residence is located. A post office box number alone does not show where the elector actually resides. The date the elector signed the petition, including month, day and year, must be indicated. Ditto marks that follow correct and complete address or date information are acceptable. The circulator may add any missing or illegible address or date information before the petition is filed with the filing officer. Individuals or committees seeking to recall elected officials should carefully review S. 9.10(2)(e), Wis. Stats., concerning the validity of signatures on recall petitions.
    Certification of Circulator - The circulator shall personally present the petition to each signer. The circulator may not leave the petition papers unattended on counters or posted on bulletin boards. After obtaining the signatures, the circulator must complete, sign and date the certification on each page of the petition.
    Page Numbers - Number each page consecutively, beginning with “1”, before submitting to the filing officer. A space for page numbers has been provided in the lower right-hand corner of the form.
    Filing Requirements - the petition shall be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 60th day after registration of the recall committee. After the petition is filed, no name may be added or removed. Any signature obtained before registration or after the appropriate circulation period may not be counted.
    Other Requirements - Individuals or committees petitioning for recall are subject to campaign finance reporting requirements. S. 11.20(4m), Wis. Stats. Individuals or committees organized to recall elected officials should carefully review S. 9.10, Wis. Stats. If individuals or committees have any questions, they should contact the filing officer of the official to be recalled.

  27. There goes the rental cars.

  28. Looks like the recall rules aren't too difficult.

    Anyone around from the Petak days that could help out?

    Oh, and Dems - start looking for a suitable replacement on the ballot. You will probably get a strong Republican opponent, so you should get someone really strong.

    Plache has some name recognition and might be suitable (plus she has experience with this).

    We just have to make sure we get a real Democrat as a representative and put our full support behind that person. Dems should be able to retain the seat and we get Lehman out of there. Sounds good to me.

  29. Also, all of you folks constantly complaining about property taxes should be dissapointed. The RTA would have taken the BUS off of your property taxes.
    Yes, but it is a percentage of the value, a controllable number. Give them their own cookie jar, and the number goes up at the rate THEY want it to, and we as citizens have NO say. Amazing how much venom supporters of this debacle are venting. I didn't get my way, so get rid of Lehman, Sheeesh!

  30. a real Democrat , ha