How the State Must Help the County

Memo to the State of Wisconsin

Buses And Baseball?

Bus riders say Yes to both!

If we can afford a Brewers Stadium we can afford buses.
We riders will now explain it to you in simple language.

Here is how it works:

  • The State pays off the Stadium debt from the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District.
  • The State turns that .1% “sports” sales tax revenue over to a regional (multi county) transit authority.

Here is how we pay for it:

  • These changes are financed by bonds. Investors will buy bonds that have a good rating and a reasonable promise of return. Only the State of Wisconsin can move all the pieces to make these bonds worthy of investment.
  • OK. But debt is easy, but how do we pay off the bonds?

    • A tiny percentage of the $7 billion slated for metropolitan freeway expansion could both reduce freeway volume and bolster public transportation. See report on exactly this from Ontario at: 2 cents per litre = happier drivers, happier and more bus riders.
    • Modernized public transportation delivers more riders; this means more fares. A percent of the new fares goes to the bonds.
    • A small rise in State-wide sales tax to refurbish public transportation across the state.
    • A $1 increase in baseball and basketball tickets. (Bus rides to the games will be free if you show a ticket.)
    • Get Bucks and Brewers to back this by promoting buses at the games.
    • To increase fares, a tax credit for workers who commute with public transportation. This would be calculated similarly to the Homestead Credit.
    • To increase use of Transit, promote and give metro employers incentives to use existing Value Pass programs. (Riders purchase pass at their job site, reducing fares about 65%.)
    • Make Value Pass program state-wide and include rail.
    • Bonding authority for the Regional Transit Authority (see below).

How does Milwaukee County sell this to the state?


Going to the State with a list of accomplishments - improved transit revenue. See August 20, 2007, Bay View Riders. Milwaukee has a vision and we believe in our city.


Lobby the State with a state-wide coalition of public transportation interest groups. Your argument is this: public transportation is essential to a modern State economy, that a strong Milwaukee economy is essential for the whole state. Stand up for Milwaukee.


Argue passionately “We Love Our Brewers” but after ten years they are costing us our transportation system and we cannot afford them, and the State needs to fix the problem it created. The Stadium is a burdensome unfunded mandate. Say so.


Fix the flaw in the Regional Transit Authority. This authority was set up for failure. The State said, in effect, get us commuter rail. But they gave RTA no authority to raise money; it must ask the State every move it makes. The State needs to back RTA with bonding authority. How does this matter?

  • Cities that have installed rail can now predict an increase in propert tax revenue due to commuter rail.
  • This increased revenue increase will pay off the bonds that funded public transit.
  • So it’s so easy. Why hasn’t it happened?
  • But the RTA was advised by its consultants that no one would purchase RTA bonds because the RTA has no track record for paying the bonds. RTA was born broke and is still waiting for the State to make a simple decision about a rental car tax. The RTA is broke when it goes to Madison.
  • RTA decisions to float bonds must be backed by the State. Businesses use debt to improve and grow their businesses. Public business is no exception.

Last edited by billsell. Based on work by bs.  Page last modified on August 27, 2007

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