Bipartisan Win for Mass Transit & Consumers

Dear Neighbor,

The legislature’s budget committee has been putting in long hours this week rewriting Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget. Most of the news hasn’t been good for Wisconsin’s middle class families. Yet, today we got a big win for consumers and people who rely on public transportation.

Win for consumers

Moments ago, the committee took a bipartisan vote to remove an egregious provision in the budget that would have exempted rent-to-own companies from Wisconsin’s Consumer Act. Rent-to-own companies prey on the poor and our most disadvantaged citizens. I am grateful a majority of my colleagues saw the wisdom in scraping this proposal which would have allowed customers to sign blank contracts and prohibited places like Rent-A-Center from disclosing interest rates, among other things.

Win for mass transit

The last budget slashed funding for local mass transit for the first time ever. Two years ago, state support for local bus systems was cut by 10%—a cut Governor Walker wanted to freeze in this budget. However, this afternoon, on a unanimous bipartisan vote, my colleagues and I moved to restore mass transit aid by $5.3 million, or 4% above what the governor had proposed. While this was the minimum Milwaukee and other communities need, it is a meaningful increase that will help Milwaukee transit users.

No bid contracts for state property

On a less positive note, the committee voted Tuesday along party lines to allow most state property—including highways, UW dormitories and possibly even Camp Randall—to be sold without a competitive bid. Needless to say, this is a horrible idea that is wrong for Wisconsin.

While getting my colleagues on the other side to accept our budget-improving ideas has often been tough sledding, I take pride in what we accomplished today. By working together, we took a positive step toward protecting Wisconsin consumers and restoring vital mass transit services here in Milwaukee and elsewhere.

Have safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

Sincerely,
JON RICHARDS
State Representative
Assembly District 19

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on May 24, 2013

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