Saturday, March 04, 2006

Needed Alterations to Revenue Amendment Mounting

The Journal-Sentinel reports today that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is proposing an expansion of the Metra commuter trains that currently run only through the downtown Amtrak station.

Expanding the commuter rail to run through the Menomonee Valley would provide needed transportation services to popular area attractions such as Summerfest, Miller Park, the State Fair, Maier Festival Park, and the proposed Harley museum. Barrett is also pushing for an expansion of the rail service through Bay View, which would give the growing community a useful commuter service.

The problem is the proposed revenue restrictions amendment. The amendment prevents special tax districts--along with all other governmental units--from raising revenue past inflation plus population growth, which would be necessary for expansions like the one proposed by Barrett. Since the rail service is considered a special tax district through Regional Transit Authority, it would be subject to the limitations of the amendment.

Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) is going to push for alterations to the revenue amendment to keep the commuter rail project alive. This change can be added to the alterations to the amendment already discussed for the stadium districts in Milwaukee and Green Bay and for the bonding provision included in the amendment.

That's three significant alterations proposed for the constitutional amendment in the three weeks since it was announced.

How many more need to come before Republican state legislators realize writing fiscal policy into the constitution is just a bad idea?

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