A Good Tired
May 1, 2009 10:57 AM
I'm a little bleary eyed this morning as I spent some quality time at the State Legislature's Joint Finance Committee last night and early this morning (The Madison City Council's got nothing on these guys). I was there with County Exec Kathleen Falk, County Board Chair Scott McDonnell and Dick Wagner, lobbying for the Dane County Regional Transit Authority. And I'm happy to say that after many tense hours, we came out on top. With some minor changes, the RTA was approved pretty much as the Governor proposed it in his budget. The vote was 12-4.
This wouldn't have happened without the leadership of "the Marks" - that's Finance Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison and Sen. Mark Miller of Monona. The negotiations on this got very complicated, not so much because of Dane County, but because of what was happening in the rest of the state and the desire for other RTAs in several other places. Through it all, Mark and Mark stayed the course. They did an incredible job on behalf of an incredibly important proposal.
A regional approach to transportation has been on the public agenda here literally for decades. So this vote is historic. But it's not over yet. Now, the budget moves on to the Assembly in a few weeks and then the Senate, with final approval by Governor Doyle in, we hope, July. After that, the RTA can get organized, but the half percent sales tax to fund it won't be implemented until there is a referendum in the area covered by the RTA (The area is actually not all of Dane County but the central part of the county including Madison and surrounding communities).
There's more work to do, but we are now well on our way to an expanded and truly regional public transit system. So, I'm pretty tired, but it's a good tired.