July 3, 2009

Doyle's gambit: Gov to meet with legislators next week on KRM

Word is Gov. Jim Doyle is planning to meet with southeastern Wisconsin legislators next week to talk about regional transit.

No doubt the governor will have to explain vetoing Milwaukee County's sales tax increase to improve its bus system. The veto has Milwaukee County legislators aligned against KRM, which hurts Racine's chances of connecting to Milwaukee and Chicago by train. (Though the bigger benefit is attracting development around a train station in the State Street area, which needs some outside cash to turn things around.)

But it seems KRM may not be dead - just heading back to the beginning. Doyle initially proposed a true regional transit authority to cover Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. Clever legislators - hastened by Sen. John Lehman's stance against a sales tax - decided to split Doyle's RTA into two pieces in hopes of being all things to all people.

Doyle thwarted their plan with his veto pen and now seems ready to take a run at a single regional transit authority. But Lehman stands in the way. Doyle's plan would require some sort of sales tax increase to pay for KRM and buses throughout southeastern Wisconsin. While this is an elegant solution to eroding public transit, it could come at a steep political cost.

Lehman is likely facing a tough challenge from Republican Rep. Robin Vos next year, and a vote in favor of a sales tax increase could hurt his re-electability quotient. But the reality is Lehman's going to have a tough time fighting off Vos even if he does stand up to the governor and torpedo KRM in the process.

This is the best chance Racine has to fix KRM and its bus system, align itself with Milwaukee and Chicago and bring lucrative development to the central city. It's up to Lehman to make this happen. (And here's a thought on how to deal with Vos' opposition: Take out the Caledonia KRM station and add one halfway between Kenosha and Racine, which would be a short bus ride to UW-Parkside. If you're not going to support investing hundreds of millions of dollars in your district, maybe that money has to go somewhere else.)


  1. Since we're back at the beginning, why not put this whole thing to referendum like the other RTA's?

  2. Vos isn't running against Lehman. Anyone that knows him, knows exactly why, but hey, if you guys want to to continue to dream - go for it.

    But you may want to watch if you're trying to manipulate KRM stops based on something that isn't going to happen.

  3. This is good news for the Racine taxpayer. Get KRM done and fundes right. The Vos wheel. Tax would have been more expensive to the avg Racine vehicle owner.

  4. C & N.W.7/03/2009 3:57 PM

    KRM is not going to happen before Walker is in office and kills J-Wax's toy once and for all.

  5. KRM will get done this year, and it will be done properly with minor sales tax increase an offsetting property tax reduction. Much better than the Vos wheel tax.

  6. 4:20

    Say what your masters want to hear if you will but anyone dumb enough in office pushing for yet more taxes will get tossed out of office.

  7. Sales tax is far better than the Vos wheel tax. Doyle just did you a favor. You should send him a letter of thanks.

  8. Lehman has one last chance to do the right thing. Get KRM done and get it done now. We're tired of half-measures.

  9. Enough of this useless KRM crap already. No one will ride it and it will be a huge taxpayer drain, like the bus system.

    GO AWAY......and go away Diamond Jim, Corey the Carpet Bagger and Lehman the criminal!

  10. Downtown Denizen7/03/2009 10:56 PM

    I wish whoever wrote this article would get it right! KRM WILL NOT GET YOU TO CHICAGO without transferring to the Metra line in Kenosha, at which point you will have to purchase a separate Metra ticket to continue to Chicago!!!! I can't believe for as long as this has been going on that people still don't under stand that the KRM means KENOSHA-Racine-Milwaukee, not Chicago-Racine-Milwaukee. Otherwise it would be called the CRM.
    And those who say that no one is going to ride this train and that it is going to be a financial drain on the residents of Racine IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.
    Also, the reason the powers-that-be don't want this to go to referrendum is because they know it will lose.

  11. How about NO tax vs a sales tax or a wheel tax (that Dickert said NO! to).
    If the Johnson's want this so badly they could put in a few hundred million into there new toy. Why do we have to pay for it?
    WHERE IN HELL are all the jobs the KRM folks say are there for train riders.

  12. No tax? Then how do you propose to pay for it? Sales tax is much better than the Vos wheel tax.

    You people want to pull J-Wax into everything. This isn't a toy and has a much better return on investment than the I-94 expansion. I say, where are all the cars? If business wants highway expansion then let them pay for their toy. Why no referendum on highway expansion? Yet another tax brought on by conservatives. We can't afford it.

    Sound ridiculous?

  13. So now people are incapable of switching trains?

    Keep trying.


  14. Thinking that few if any are going leave 2 hours earlier to take the J-Wax toy to jobs that do not exist.
    What does exist is Transit Now and consultants looking to keep the money rolling in.
    What does exist is the carping from J-Wax and their shrills for KRM.
    Look at Merta low ridership needing tons of added funding NO NONE development neat the lines.

  15. "So now people are incapable of switching trains? Keep trying. Next." OK, Mr. brilliant economic developer/economist - here is yet another angle to think about: METRA is running at an ever increasing loss and drastic changes are probably coming. Suppose METRA decides to cut their service to Kenosha, which isn't filled like their shorter runs? Nothing like hooking your business plan up to another business plan that you depend upon and have no control over! Will KRM have to pay off METRA in a big way to keep it running to keep their own train "running" to Chicago? What if the transfer station is built in Kenosha and METRA says "sorry folks, we're only running to Waukegan now". Will we be building a train from Kenosha to Waukegan? Good luck with all that.

  16. I ride the Metra every weekday to Chicago. First of all, that train is always packed. No matter if it's the 5:03 p.m. or the 9:35 p.m., at least 50 or 100 people pour off the train in Kenosha. Second, Metra ridership is up. Metra is not losing money - it's doing fine. It's the CTA in Chicago that is struggling, due mostly to staggering health care and pension costs for its employees. Third, KRM riders would transfer to the Metra train at the WAUKEGAN stop, thus allowing people in Racine and Milwaukee to take advantage of the much more frequent Chicago-Waukegan service. Fourth, as to the employers to which the KRM would connect people in Racine, well, let's see ... in Milwaukee: Northwestern Mutual, Manpower, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, Associated Bank, Assurant, WE Energies ... in Chicago/Evanston: Boeing, United, Quaker Oats, PriceWaterHouseCooper, CNA, University of Illinois-Chicago, Rush University, Northwestern Hospital, Northwestern University ...

  17. Actually yes, METRA, not just CTA is having major problems too. Google or look through the Chicago Tribune archives. I also take the Kenosha to Chicago train fairly frequently and it NEVER gets "packed" at the Kenosha stop, only by Evanston does it really get packed (even then there are usually seats upstairs).

    And is anyone hiring at Northwestern Mutual, Manpower, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, Associated Bank, Assurant, WE Energies, Boeing, United, Quaker Oats, PriceWaterHouseCooper, CNA, University of Illinois-Chicago, Rush University, Northwestern Hospital, Northwestern University?

  18. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-165051896.html

    Metra $$

  19. No tax? Then how do you propose to pay for it?

    Oh, I don't know, how about riders paying for it? Perhaps ober rich businesses that say they want it could pitch in?

    Why tax something that duplicates existing service that is currently not used?

    You mean to tell me that if people really needed it they would not take a bus but they would take a train?

    Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for anything that needs a 90%+ subsidy. And please let go of the roads thing, roads are paid for through the people who use them in fuel and license fees.

    I propose the same thing, let those who ride the train pay for the train.

    Perhaps we could set up a donation box like the Racine Post has so all of so in favor of the train could support it in that manner.