Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wisconsinites Pay Into Transportation Projects Nationally; Walker Forfeits The Reverse

Bucky supports highways and train projects by the thousands in the other 49 states; you can read about them at the US DOT web page.

And you can throw in another $810 million Scott Walker wants to forfeit, probably to Illinois, Florida or New York, to make an uninformed political statement - - but which will probably make Wisconsin a federal funds' net-loser, a donor state to the other 49.

We have two percent of the country's population. Do you think we were paying more than that into the funds from which the $810 million was drawn?

Penny-wise, pound-foolish.

People in Wisconsin who oppose the train Walker is canceling say they will never use it, so why should they pay a dime for its construction through their federal gas or stimulus taxes - - and with a very small state contribution to its operations - -  but are these same folks ever going to use any of the thousands of projects around the country to which some of their dollars are already being directed?

Let's take a few samples:

How about these fine-looking projects in Lincoln, NB?

Tulsa, Oklahoma's Inner Loop?

Upgrades to I-95 in Delaware?

Or the St. Louis-to-Chicago high-speed rail work already underway.

Some Wisconsin money is in those projects, even if Bucky never rides or drives on them.

Take this high-speed upgrade to the Amtrak line from Washington, DC to Vermont. The work will be completed in 2011. The federal share is $50 million: So Wisconsin's donation is about $1 million.

How many of us in Wisconsin figure to ride the train to get your money's worth?

I thought so.

You see how it works? People in all 50 states contribute to work in other states. 

It's cooperative, not socialistic, or communistic.

We pay a share in the other 49 states, and they send their shares here.  Because we're one country.

And the same has held true within Wisconsin: people in Milwaukee pay into transportation funds - - some state-raised, some from the other 49 states - - that build bridges in La Crosse or Green Bay, and people in Ashland contribute to roads in Madison or Kewaunee, or to the operation of Amtrak from Milwaukee to Chicago that keeps I-94 less congested.

The Amtrak extension from Madison to Madison - - a piece of an eventual Midwestern and national high-speed rail system - - would have been funded and operated on these same, cooperative models.

Dropping out of the high-speed rail plan leaves Wisconsin businesses and travelers with fewer options, makes the state less accessible and desirable for outsiders to visit, or to bring their commerce - - and increases the net outflow of money from Wisconsin to the other states.

Short-sighted for sure.


Max B said...

It will be fun to watch as Walker crafts his message in preparation for the "snow-bird parties" he plans to host in Florida to convince Wisconsin's retirees to return to Wisconsin. What will he say about killing off various modes of public transportation--from the downtown Milwaukee trolley to the high-speed rail line crossing the state? Will he legislate better weather? How about taxpayer-funded shuffle boards? Will he be honest about the Milwaukee County Parks system now in disrepair? Will he do the same to the state parks system? Does he expect them to flock back here on the strength of his promises?

Anonymous said...

Time was trains had to produce a profit in order to stay in business. I rather like that model, as it keeps us, as a nation from bankrupting ourselves by supporting unprofitable businesses.

The Golden Goose is dieing, and we are fighting over the last golden egg.


James Rowen said...

Where is the profit in the publicly-built road system?

Anonymous said...

When I drive downtown to work via US45 and I-94, I make a profit by exchanging my time for a paycheck. Unless I hop a freight train, there's no passenger train service in NW Milwaukee.

Literally everyone uses our roads. Only a couple thousand train passengers per day. It's a no brainer that roads benefit Wisconsin taxpayers more than passenger trains ever will.