Wisconsin is one of the highest taxed states in the nation. If you live in Milwaukee, you’ve got it even worse. All taxes are through the roof… highest sales tax rate, highest property taxes, most “fees” that are nothing more than disguised taxes…
Every time we turn around, a politician is looking for new ways to tax us and worse ways to spend that money. Somehow, Milwaukee politicians seem to think they’re entitled to take as much money from us as they want. (But then they cry when businesses don’t open in Milwaukee, providing jobs for the residents…) There are constant cries that the government just doesn’t have enough money to do what it NEEDS to do. That argument is slapped down time and again with proof like this… the fact that the public school system spends over $14,000 per child and they still can’t read.
For years the politicians have been fighting over the bus system, the Milwaukee County Transit System. As usual, the big spenders think it doesn’t have enough money. The truth is that the system is under-utilized. Why? Well it’s not the cost. $2.00 is a cheap ride to anywhere in the city. Those in charge think maybe there aren’t enough busses running. (I say a little wait for a bus won’t kill anyone.)
But the economics of the bus system are such that it’s in danger of going under. So instead of finding new ways to be more efficient, spend less money, and still offer the bus system to those who need it…. Mayor Tom Barrett instead has found new ways to waste tens of millions of dollars in a way which doesn’t enhance the city or the bus system.
For 17 years, politicians have been arguing about a “streetcar” system in downtown Milwaukee. What this would be is an add-on to the bus system which virtually no one would use, would cost a lot of money, and would duplicate services already provided by the bus system. Worse yet, it would be a “fixed” system. You can’t move it or use the assets anywhere else because the system is literally built into the street.
What happens once this is a miserable failure? Politicians say “oops, sorry for spending your money.”
The best indicator of whether such a system will be successful is the trolley car system that has run in downtown during the summers. Its biggest success is running empty trolleys around downtown. Why does that happen? They’re not needed or wanted in the heart of downtown. Just as this streetcar system is not needed or wanted.
The pork in the latest bailout bill includes handing $91.5 million to Milwaukee. 60%, or $54.9 million goes to the streetcar system and the rest goes to the bus system. Mayor Tom Barrett is claiming that the system will “spur development” in downtown Milwaukee. And anyone who lives or works there knows we don’t need development “spurred” there. It already has plenty of development, and it’s easy to get around down without this waste of money.
You should also know this streetcar system can’t run in the winter. So it will be useless 4 to 6 months out of each year.
So there you have it. An inflexible system that is useless for a big chunk of the year, can’t be moved anywhere because it’s built into the street, is incredibly expensive to build at about $25 million per mile, isn’t wanted by the people, and won’t be used. What a way to spend our taxpayer dollars.