By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers is playing Santa again with your federal tax dollars, this time dropping millions of dollars on the two cities he needs most next year if he has any hope of winning a second term.
The Democrat this week announced his administration will allocate nearly $20 million in federal COVID relief funds to the Milwaukee County Transit System, and $5.2 million for the city of Madison.
Evers, of course, held a press conference to show how much he’s giving — in other people’s money — to the liberal strongholds. He also used the occasion, per usual, to bash the Republican-led Legislature, which cut mass transit funding by 50 percent, or about $41.3 million over the biennium.
Democrats called the cuts “spiteful.” Republicans said Evers’ bloated budget proposal, including substantial increases in public transportation, was irresponsible. Evers refused to include the billions of dollars in federal COVID aid at his disposal in crafting his tax-and-spend budget plan.
In short, the governor could have allocated the transit funds from his federal stash a long time ago. Instead, he asked state taxpayers to foot the bill for transit systems that have seen ridership plummet. Republicans stopped his fiscal imposition, but they approved base mass transit funding of nearly $113 million to begin the 2023-25 biennium, when, presumably, the state will not have access to such federal largesse.
State Rep. Jon Plumer (R-Lodi) said Evers’ cries of transit poverty don’t square with the numbers.
“Milwaukee County and Madison’s transit systems already have received around $285 million in federal assistance as part of Congress’ COVID-19 recovery packages,” said Plumer, chairman of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee. “I would have preferred to see Governor Evers’ spend this $25 million in areas of the state that haven’t already received considerable sums of federal funds.”