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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

"Every budget is a statement of our values," the new Madison mayor said on her first capital budget.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway proposes first capital budget emphasizing metro transit, affordable housing

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who took office in April, proposed the executive capital budget for 2020 on Tuesday, dedicating $170.6 million in new spending that focuses on Bus Rapid Transit and funding affordable housing.

Metro Transit transports 57,000 riders daily in Madison, according to the proposed plan. Consequently, Rhodes-Conway intends to implement the first phase of rapid transit — utilizing dedicated lanes, modern stations, larger buses and other enhancements to expand service — by 2024. 

This enhanced method of transportation is expected to reduce ride times for Metro riders by up to 25 percent. Mayor Rhodes-Conway set a goal of reaching 18 million annual riders, compared to former Mayor Paul Soglin who set the record at 15.2 million in 2015.

"Every budget is a statement of our values," the new Madison mayor, who took office in April, said. “We need to build on success and grow a modern transit system that is regional, fast and reliable."

The 2020 Capital Budget & Capital Improvement Plan is centered around six elements: land use and transportation, neighborhoods and housing, green and resilient, economy and opportunity, culture and character and lastly, effective government.


Additionally, the budget changes the timing of some big projects in the coming years. While it continues support for the planned $13 million Madison Public Market on the East Side, it moves seven million in local funding to a tax incremental financing district and $17 million from the Reindahl Imagination Center on the North Side, envisioned for 2022, which now has no set timeline.

Rhodes-Conway stated that her first capital budget will lower general obligation debt by $116 million from what was requested by government departments.

“The executive capital budget’s overarching priorities — equity, sustainability, affordable housing, improved transit system, lower general debt obligation — are ones that alders also feel strongly about,” said Alder Shiva Bidar, who also serves as Council President. “The City Council looks forward to the detailed and intentional work of carefully analyzing the proposed executive capital budget to better understand how each project aligns with our individual and collective priorities.”

The 2020 CIP approaches the budget process differently than previous years, accelerating the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit. Rhodes-Conway stated that the future of the budget process is one that “begins with funding the outcomes that matter most to our residents.”

Following, Rhodes-Conway acknowledged the unaffordable housing in Madison for many.

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“Our mobility options favor those with means, while many individuals and families often face long rides to jobs, schools, and childcare on our transit system,” she said. “We must — and will — meet and overcome these challenges in ways that are innovative and inclusive.” 

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