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Thursday, February 18, 2016

 6:09 PM 

Streetcar bill wins Assembly approval

Milwaukee County and the state could not incur any expenses related to the city of Milwaukee’s streetcar project under a bill that cleared the Assembly 59-36.

And that didn't sit well with Dems, who repeatedly argued the topic is a matter of local control and not one the Legislature should be concerned with.

"If you don't want to fund it, don't fund it," Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said. "But don't go out of your way to pick on my city."

AB 562, by Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, adds the state to a measure in the current budget that requires the county cannot incur expenses related to the streetcar unless the city fully reimburses those expenses.

An amendment to the bill clarifies the state and Milwaukee County cannot incur any expenses relating to the operation “or construction” of the streetcar. The amendment also requires Milwaukee reimburse the state or county for any direct or indirect expenses related to the project.

Kremer said his bill has nothing to do with local control. No one, he said, is telling the city that it can or cannot build the streetcar system.

But, he said, project cost overruns are common on major government projects and he wants to make sure state taxpayers don't shoulder the burden.

"I do not wish ill will on the city of Milwaukee or its residents," Kremer said.

Two Republicans -- Al Ott, of Forest Junction, and John Spiros, of Marshfield, joined Dems in voting against. See the roll call here.

Following the vote, Rep. Thomas Larson, R-Colfax, got a standing ovation from the body for running the bill.



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