Funding the Fight

By Sean Busking, ACRA

I spent an hour and a half on a conference call this week trying to gain consensus on the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority's tax proposal and hoping to finance a strategy to oppose it. This “indecent” proposal is the work of the RTA's call for a $13-a-car tax increase on rental cars to pay for new commuter trains to link Milwaukee to its southern suburbs and to Racine and Kenosha.

The Wisconsin Car Rental Alliance (WCRA) has formulated a strong platform of defense and real plan of attack; it was impressive to hear car rental industry leaders in Milwaukee come together.

However, while all of the players agree that we must unite as an industry to put an end to predatory legislation such as the RTA’s proposal, the more difficult situation is how to fund a defense. Failing to defeat the RTA’s proposal will cost not only our industry unjustly, but also our industry’s consumers millions of dollars. While I am confident that such funding will come forth, the conversation inevitably turns to who should pay the most and who should pay the least.

As these battles come up, each company needs to retreat to decide on their own formula of how much to contribute. This is necessary, but not always expedient. In this case several days were lost in deciding on funding versus execution of a solid plan to stop a bad idea!

There must be an easier and fairer way to expedite this situation.

As the Executive Director of the American Car Rental Association, the only national association exclusively dedicated to the legislative health of the American auto rental industry, I ask myself, “What If?”

What if all of the industry players were members of ACRA? Everyone would then get representation on an issue. As to the stickier funding debate, the answer is simple: ACRA’s pro-rata membership dues are used for this very reason, as an industry legislative action pool. This becomes the primary source of funding for everyone.

ACRA was formed to represent the industry—the entire industry—regarding those issues that are so unanimously opposed that any deviation from the prevailing membership position would be unthinkable.

It was formed to accomplish industry conference calls where all players, no matter how big or small their role, agree to write the collective check as the unified, singular voice of the American car rental industry, and take center stage in the fight against political expediency and flawed logic.

It was formed to let lawmakers know that our industry may be very competitive internally, but we’re no longer going to be our own worst enemy.

We can as an industry continue to figure it out as we go, and take time to fight about it knowing some won’t even show up.

Or maybe—“What if,”—we could fight these things together with some equitable manner of funding. The Wisconsin battle unfortunately won’t be the last.