Too Much Government For Good Collaboration?
A new study finds the metropolitan area between Milwaukee and Chicago has far more governmental units than larger — and more efficient — metropolitan areas worldwide.
With more than 2,100 separate government entities in the Chicago-Milwaukee metropolitan area, cooperation — and the efficiency that can bring — is difficult, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting.
The newspaper reported on a European think tank's finding that the governmental sprawl of the Midwestern megalopolis is bigger than other, larger metropolitan areas worldwide. For example, in the greater London area, the Journal Sentinel reports, "a mere 34 government entities look after all the public safety, services, transportation, zoning and schools." Toronto has 28, the newspaper reports, and Paris clocks in at more than 1,400.
From the Journal Sentinel article:
The two adjoining metro regions (of Milwaukee and Chicago) are conjoined by common industries, highways and shoreline but splintered into a profusion of 2,155 separate entities of government.
That welter of inefficiencies and jurisdictional rivalries — with Wisconsinites proudly poaching Illinois companies and balking at joint transportation policies — undermine what otherwise could become a vibrant economic bloc with the potential to lift both regions in international rankings, according to findings this year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The OECD says Chicago is at "a tipping point." The report itself focused on thematic policy issues like effectiveness and coordination of workforce development programs, capacity for innovation, its role as a center for logistics on the continent, and its capacity to encourage green growth.
The Paris-based OECD says while the area is one of the richest regions in the world, it is in danger of not fulfilling its potential, and must "better match skills to jobs, become more innovative and improve its transportation networks."
One key finding: "If employment in the Chicago Tri-State metro-region had grown at the national rate over the past 20 years, the region would have almost 600,000 additional jobs today."
The OECD says transportation is part of that. Interstate 94 connects Chicago and Milwaukee, but attempts to get mass transit running between the cities has been more difficult. Trains, in particular, have met with resistance. Gov. Scott Walker declined $810 million in federal funds that would have helped pay for a high-speed rail line that would have connected Madison and Milwaukee. That money later went to other states.
The proposed KRM rail line — which would have connected Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee — was also stopped by legislators. That train would have hooked the Milwaukee area into the Metra rail network that serves Chicago and its suburbs. The Metra's only Wisconsin stop is in Kenosha.
The Journal Sentinel and the Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research at Marquette Law School are sponsoring a conference Tuesday looking at Milwaukee's role in the Tri-State area. The sold-out event will be streamed live.