Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Price Break On Annual Train Operations

Today's page one Journal Sentinel story about the timing of a pivotal agreement to fund the Milwaukee-Madison high speed rail line placed important news for state taxpayers in paragraph nine and thus on the jump page in the hard copy edition.

Too bad: state taxpayers are getting a heckuva bargain, and it could have been the headline, but don't blame reporter Larry Sandler, who discloses:

"Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year, not counting the part covered by fares. But Renlund said the state is already using federal funds to cover 90% of the Hiawatha's $5.2 million annual operating cost - leaving $520,000 a year for state taxpayers to pick up - and hopes to do the same with the new line. That would mean state taxpayers would be paying $750,000 a year for the service to Madison."

So Wisconsin would get the train line construction fully-paid by stimulus funds, with an annual state tab for some operating expenses amounting to less than one-tenth of 1% of the construction cost.

And less than 8% of the size of the operating cost that GOP candidate Scott Walker has been claiming all campaign season.

The blame for the buried good news falls to the state and federal officials who handled these discussions and thus lost control of the announcement.

And they should never have put Tom Barrett and Democrats in such a defensive position on election day.


Anon Jim said...

Jim Doyle's election special flip-off to the tax-payers of Wisconsin.

Wonder how long the MJS sat on this story before publishing?

James Rowen said...

About zero seconds. This is a genuine scoop, and once verified, amsure went immediately. It's a lesser story after the election.

This is a perfect illustration of comments influenced by perceptions of media bias.

Ron R said...

I see that when someone says they hope to use federal funds like they do for the Hiawatha line that this is what will happen. By the way, where do these federal funds come from when you really get down to it??? Beuhler? Beuhler?

James Rowen said...

Federal stimulus funds come from income tax or other revenues collected from you and me. We all pay for things we use and things we don't, but which benefit the common good. Congress auhtorized the funding and governors disburse them,er tha lwa.

James Rowen said...

Sorry for all those typos. I am on a Netbook and multi-tasking.

The funds are auhtorized by Congress and disbursed per the law.

Ron R said...

Let me get this straight. Wisconsin taxpayers won't have to pay as much for operation of the train because we use use other funds that are, at least partly, paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers? Seriously?

James Rowen said...

Taxpayers in a country of 50 states routinely pay for things and in other states. Taxpayers in Milwaukee routinley pay for things in Green Bay and Ashland and Boscobel, and vice versa.