Hi-speed rail is a boondoggle
Still, Secretary LaHood declared that: “High-speed rail is coming to Wisconsin,” and “there’s no stopping it.”
I am drawing a line in the sand. No matter how much money President Obama and Governor Doyle try to spend before the end of the year in my state, I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office.
It’s outrageous for Secretary LaHood to suggest that the Obama administration can force Wisconsin to continue building a train it doesn’t want and cannot afford. Almost as outrageous as the fact that the decision to saddle Wisconsin taxpayers with untold millions in operating and maintenance costs, forever, was never debated or voted on by the Wisconsin legislature.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, my opponent in the race to replace Governor Doyle, has made the Milwaukee to Madison train the centerpiece of his economic development plan for Wisconsin. The Mayor tells us that spending $810 million on high-speed rail will create thousands of new Wisconsin jobs, but according to the federal government’s own estimate, the total number of permanent jobs created will be 55. That’s more than $14.5 million per job, not including any hidden costs!
As for hidden costs, no one in the president’s administration, nor Governor Doyle – or Mayor Barrett – can provide an accurate estimate of what it will cost to operate and maintain the new rail line. Rail projects in numerous other areas have seen original cost estimates skyrocket once construction begins.
In addition, study after study shows that rail passenger fares are likely to cover only 20 percent of the operating costs. That leaves hardworking Wisconsin families to pick up the other 80 percent through higher taxes and fees.
This is yet another example of President Obama’s failed stimulus policies that are bankrupting our nation and we’ve had enough.
Wisconsin is not the only state where voters are saying no to this wasteful spending. John Kasich in Ohio has said he will kill a similar $400 million federal stimulus project to link Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati by rail. Meg Whitman will halt a $45 billion plan to link Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Rick Scott has reservations on an Orlando to Tampa rail line.
It’s reckless for the president, Governor Doyle, and Mayor Barrett to commit to spending $810 million of our money on a boondoggle train when we can’t even afford to fix our roads and bridges. Our state is facing a $2.5 billion hole in next year’s budget and a list a mile long of transportation needs. If the Obama administration is truly interested in helping Wisconsin build the transportation infrastructure it needs and desires, they should allow us to use this money for roads and bridges instead.
Governor Doyle and Secretary LaHood say we can’t stop the train. I say, just watch us.
Scott Walker is the Republican candidate for governor of Wisconsin.
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