Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Walker, The Train And The Milwaukee Business Leaders Who Failed It

So let's see how Scott Walker's job's creation rhetoric matches up with reality.

When Scott Walker was running for Governor, the campaign message was: elect me and I'll create 250,000 new jobs in four years.

Big talk, but effective.

The Journal Sentinel cited his job-creating goals in the lead sentences of its endorsement editorial:
"Scott Walker has said repeatedly during his campaign for governor that he will develop strategies to create 250,000 new jobs during his first term.
It's a big promise - one that has been derided by his critics.  But for the sake of Wisconsin, Walker had better be right."
But shortly after his election, Walker stayed truer to his anti-transit talk radio handlers and his highway-lobby donors by canceling an Amtrak extension to Madison from Milwaukee already under way with federal funding for 100% of the construction costs, and indications also that the feds would copy their Milwaukee-Chicago funding arrangement and cover about 90% of the new line's annual operating cost after it opened in 2013.

Walker claimed the state couldn't afford the operating costs - - less than $1 million annually, and a fraction of what the state spends on highway operating costs annually.

Instant result from what Walker said was a "victory?"

The jobs' creating Governor-elect was already responsible for the loss of jobs - -  estimated maxing out t  annually at 4,700.Wrote Larry Sandler of the Journal Sentinel:
"Therefore, total employment specifically linked to the train line would be 1,100 this year, 3,483 next year, 4,732 in 2012, 1,542 in 2013, 483 in 2014 and 167 in 2015.The remaining jobs that the state claims would be created - 181 this year, 577 next year, 803 in 2012, 305 in 2013, 138 in 2014 and 83 in 2015 - would be "induced" employment, or jobs at stores, restaurants and other businesses where the railroad workers would spend their wages."
And don't forget about train car parts' supplier jobs lost to a long list of businesses statewide?
\La Crosse, hello!What a political mess. For a jobs'-creating candidate.

What do to do...what to do...

At first Walker tried to claim that train funding could be switched to road projects, but it didn't take long for that to be debunked.

Then Walker's politically-inspired truculence looked worse as the Spanish train car assembly factory recruited to Milwaukee with the assistance of the Milwaukee business community to make train sets for the growing US market, said it would shut down the assembly business in 2012.

The Spanish firm, Talgo, Inc., appealed to the Milwaukee business community for help with Walker. Naively, Talgo must have supposed it to be an ally in this jobs' creating business.

On the hot seat - - this is not where a jobs-creating leader wants to be - - Walker needed supporters, so the Milwaukee business community decided to back Walker even though they had supported the train line expansion and Talgo's recruitment here.

"Why beat a dead train," said Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy, even though half his members polled liked the train.

The Journal Sentinel's news side looked into the business community's flimsy excuses surrounding the abandonment of Talgo - -  and said the train maker had its story straight.

Some consolation, though the damage to workers and the local economy and rail connections among Midwestern cities has been done.

[Update: Illinois is taking some of its Wisconsin windfall transferred there through Walker's rail line refusal to create - - what? - - a public/private rail partnership.

That's how you create jobs, Mr. Walker.]

So jobs were and are concern #1 one; how's it all looking as the year ends and the new administration looms?
At somewhere around  -4,750 jobs - - on the negative side of the ledger.

(Sorry about the paragraphing here. Template problems...)


Anonymous said...

I've wondered why Sheehy never broke out the broke out the individual views of the 428 firm participating in his "survey". How did firms with more the 500 employees answer? NML and Johnson Controls both had expressed support prior to the train being pulled. Workers making less than $40,000 probably aren't the target; but Docs, lawyers, bankers and the above firms would constitute the majority of the users like the Metra in the Chicago area.

Anonymous said...

He is not even governor yet and he is ruining the state. What a farce and a mess. The happiest week in Wisconsin will be when Scott officially resigns the County Board on 12/27 and before he is sworn into office. That will be one week of bliss followed by four years of pain and suffering.