Fast Rail Operating Costs Would Be 1% Or Less Of State Highway Operating Subsidies
Incoming Governor Scott Walker canceled the federally-100%-funded construction of new train service from Madison to Milwaukee because he claims the state cannot afford its share of the train's annual operating cost - - which he pegs at $7.5 million-$10 million.
Set aside the fact that the federal government has said it would pay 90% of that annual cost - - a matter Walker overlooks - - which, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported, could drop that annual state expense to as little as $750,000.
That's $2,055 a day.
Peanuts, as we shall see, to gain the economic advantage of an $810 million rail linkage to a Midwestern, and eventually national high-speed train system
That, for starters, will connect Wisconsin's two largest cities, and their universities, tourists, commerce and industries to the bigger regional urban centers in Chicago and the Twin Cities.
Can't afford $2,055 a day - - and the thousands of jobs it will create, and the cars it will take off the roads - - for that opportunity?
Then surely we must already be living in the poorhouse because of that $550,000 a-day- $200 million annual subsidy allotted in the budget for state highway system operations.
From the WisDOT annual budget - - (click on the "highlights" option"):
"State Highway Maintenance & Traffic Operations – This program is responsible for operating the highway system to provide year-round mobility, daily maintenance, and repair and preservation of the system to obtain full service life. These activities include but are not limited to repairing potholes, removing snow and managing salt inventory, controlling vegetation, installing and maintaining pavement marking, and intelligent transportation systems.
"The budget provides total funding of $199.7 million for FY 10 and $199.7 million in FY 11. This amount includes a 6% base funding reduction for state trunk highway Maintenance and Operations, and a 1% funding reduction for state owned lift bridge operations."
And yes, let's apply the language of subsidies and subsidizing to state highway operations, as that is the language always applied to train operations by opponents.
Isn't it time for Walker to stop pointing to a purportedly-unaffordable cost for the train operations- - which he vastly-overstates to make his case - - in light of facts that show the state is planning on spending at least 100 times more money on annual operating/subsidizing the state highway system that the train might cost?
And isn't it time the Wisconsin public got a far more balanced state transportation budget and plan, and not a highway plan with rail shut out of the mix?
Come on James - do it per mile. Nice try though!
Per-mile, beginning when?
When will people stop calling this "high speed rail?"
It is not high speed rail, that is only what the liberals call it to try and make a better sales pitch.
How about the subsidy and the overall cost per passenger mile?
How about the train's per-person benefits of cleaner air, and the peace of mind for drivers facing less congestion, and the social benefits of added employment.
Why does EVERY debate have to be framed in the "liberal vs. conservative" frame. Don't you people see you are brainwashed by the MSM?
Call it lightning speed rail if you wish. It doesn't really matter though, because it is not going to happen.
It is just be another bad idea lost in the fantasy liberal world of utopia...
The whole "The Feds are going to subsidize this" doesn't play either. It seems some people don't understand that that the citizens of WI support the federal gov't with our tax dollars as well.
@ Anonymous #4. The Federal funding was already committed out of existing tax money for the rail line, and rejecting it will further cement the fact that the Federal government is a drain on the state of Wisconsin, who is already shorted on Federal tax monies that are reinvested in Wisconsin. So the reactionaries want Wisconsin residents to pay taxes to the Federal government and actually receive less for their money. Nonsensical.
Joshua - "exisiting tax money" from a Federal government that is $14 Trillion in debt?
There is no exisisting tax money - it is all debt you moron.
@Anonymous #5 - The taxes not paid by the rich(thanks to Bush and Reagan tax cuts) that make the US have the lowest tax rate in the developed world, two wars of choice, bank bailouts and favors to the financial industry, and tax breaks and subsidies to the immensely profitable fossil fuel industry are responsible for the vast majority of that 14T debt. At least all US presidents had the sense until recently to raise taxes to pay for wars instead of putting them on the credit card.
There is the lions share of the debt. Of course, the rich and the banks must not share in the sacrifice, and an $800 million dollar train system is a drop in the bucket relative to the wars, tax cuts, and fossil fuel subsidies that "conservatives" feel are "investments". Obviously, though, they are an epic failure, to create jobs or infrastructure useful to regular Americans.
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