State Senators Mary Lazich (R-Waukesha), Joe Leibham (R-Manitowoc) and Lassee (R- DePere) killed legislation that would have allowed the Fox Valley cities to create a Regional Transit Authority and keep the Fox Valley Transit system operating at full strength.
The vote came after more than 60 people, including Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna and area business leaders and community activists presented compelling testimony about the value of the transit services and the needs for new funding as federal operating assistance comes to an end for the service.
Because the Appleton metropolitan area population has grown past 200,000 it will no longer be eligible for federal operating assistance. This coupled with a 10% state aid cut means that unless new revenues are found, the system will have start cutting service.
State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton) introduced legislation that would have allowed the Fox Valley to create a Regional Transit Authority that would have raised revenues through a levy of up to one half cent sales tax. The bill was crafted to meet all Republican legislators demands that the RTA have a referendum and consist only of elected officials. Even though the legislation met these demands, Republicans opposed the bill and killed it. Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) supported the legislation but was unable to convince any of his Republican colleagues to support the bill.