The High Speed Rail Association of Wisconsin has totaled up the cost of Scott Walker's foolish rejection of $810 million for the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago Amtrak extension and improvements - - and notes that the state now must borrow fresh millions more to pay for some items the $810 million would have covered.
That's some fiscal conservatism.
Here is the text of the group's statement:
May 16, 2011
Walker Rejection Causes New WDOT Bonding Boondoggle
State taxpayers facing $139.6 Million Bill for Needed Passenger Rail Improvements
Today, the nearly 800,000 regular users of the popular Hiawatha Service between Milwaukee and Chicago woke up to find a $210 million dollar surprise being reported in their local newspaper.
In a major expose, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that state taxpayers will be forced to pay for an additional $139.6 million in passenger and freight rail bonding in addition to the previously reported state bonding needs for the Madison to Watertown freight rail line.
A whopping $160 million for both projects is being placed on the state credit card increasing state debt for costs that would have been covered by the 100% funding federal grant totaling $810 Million that Governor Walker turned down in December 2010. The returned dollars are at work in others states, improving service and adding local construction jobs.
"We are very disappointed that Governor Walker's earlier short sighted decision to reject under all circumstances the bipartisan $810 Million federal rail line grant could now cost state taxpayers and transportation fund stakeholders and additional $139.6 million in new bonding," said Mr. David Mumma, President of the High Speed Rail Association of Wisconsin.
Repairs and upgrades are needed for the Hiawatha service because of its increased popularity and use. Originally, these badly needed repairs and ADA required improvements were included in the $810 Million federal Milwaukee to Madison corridor grant, which Governor Walker loudly rejected in December of 2010.
Last year, the Inter-model Station in Milwaukee served 1.3 Million passengers including those connecting to local and intercity bus transportation.
The HSRW is an advocacy group that is committed to the development of high speed and passenger rail for the betterment of Wisconsin and its citizens.
Gary R. Goyke
High Speed Rail Association of Wisconsin