Last December (seems like years ago today) thousands of protesters decried then Governor-elect Walker’s decision to reject $810 million in federal dollars to construct a high-speed rail system in Wisconsin that would link Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago.
The amount that the state “couldn’t afford” came to about $600,000 a year after federal matching subsidies. So the state ended up losing nearly a billion dollars of federal aid, thousands of engineering and construction jobs, a newly located train manufacturer in Milwaukee and countless dollars and jobs that would have occurred as a result of transit oriented development.
Rail proponents pointed out to Mr. Walker that we also stood to lose tens of millions of dollars that were badly needed for improvements to a section of state owned train tracks east of Madison as a part of the high-speed rail project.
A tone deaf Mr. Walker ignored those arguments and sent to gift back to Washington.
Now, Governor Walker is making the first payment due because of that rejection. His proposed 2011-2013 budget allocates $60 million for making the improvements to the train tracks that would have been paid for with the federal gift of $810 million for high-speed rail.
Put another way, if Mr. Walker had taken a different track, we could have had a regional rail connection that form the first link in connecting the Twin Cities to Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago and points east for about $600,000 a year. Instead, we are sent a bill by Mr. Walker for $60 million.
That $60 million could have paid for the operating costs of the system for the next 100 years.
Read full article here:http://www.biztimes.com/blogs/milwaukee-biz-blog/2011/3/15/walkers-great-train-robbery-sticks-us-with-a-60-million-bill