Gov. Tony Evers on Monday announced plans to direct $25 million in federal coronavirus recovery funds to help replace cuts to public transit funding for Madison and Milwaukee that were included in the state’s 2021-23 biennial budget.
Evers said in a statement that Madison is slated to receive about $5.2 million while Milwaukee County will get about $19.7 million. The Republican-led budget committee earlier this year approved a one-time, 50% cut to the state’s mass transit operating assistance funding to the two communities.
All told, the budget included a roughly $41 million cut to public transit over the biennium. Madison officials estimated the city would lose about $8.8 million over the two-year budget, while Milwaukee’s service was cut by about $32 million. No cities but Madison and Milwaukee lost state funding for their transit programs in the budget.
“For our most urban centers to be targeted by Republican cuts during the last budget was a slap in the face to the disproportionate number of Wisconsinites in those communities who depend on public transit to get to school, work, doctor’s appointments — you name it,” Evers said in a statement. “I am glad to be putting our (federal) funds to good use in these communities to help ensure our families, workers and businesses, and our economic drivers for the state continue to bounce back from the pandemic and see long-term economic recovery.”
The funds will come from American Rescue Plan Act dollars allocated to the state earlier this year. As governor, Evers, a Democrat who is running for reelection next year, has sole discretion over the funds.
“Restoring some of Madison’s transit aid, which was unfairly cut by the legislature, will directly benefit our economy by getting people to work, shopping, school and more,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “It will also allow us to continue our partnerships with surrounding communities, which bring better transportation options to our region.”