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View from around the state: Legislators should work together on RTA bill

On some issues in the state capitol, partisanship gives way to standing up for your constituents.

The statewide smoking ban was one of them. Most legislators in the Fox Cities — both Republican and Democrat — came to support a ban to level the playing field throughout the state.

Our legislators have a chance to address another one of those issues when they go to Madison next month for the next legislative session.

The cities, towns and villages in and around the Fox Cities deserve to be able to vote on whether to set up a regional transit authority to help pay operating costs for Valley Transit.

When the results of the 2010 census come out, our area is expected to surpass 200,000 in population, which means Valley Transit will lose about $1.5 million annually that it gets from the federal government. The feds figure that when a metro area hits that size, it should be able to support the operating costs itself.

Legislation was introduced in Madison last year to allow each city, town and village — if it chose to — to hold a referendum on establishing a regional transit authority in the Fox Cities. The RTA would be able to impose a sales tax — 0.1 percent was suggested at the time — to replace the lost federal funding. It would give Fox Cities residents a voice to say whether they wanted to support Valley Transit. The people would decide. No one else.

But the bill wasn’t passed in the Assembly until its final day in session, and after the Senate went home.

In the new session, our legislators should work together to push for a law that would allow the referendum. Again, they wouldn’t be voting for a tax. They’d just be voting to give the people the power to decide.

It’s an idea that should get bipartisan support.

The Post-Crescent, Appleton

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