Thursday, April 12, 2012

Like Walker, NJ GOP Governor Overstated Canceled Rail Project State Cost

Why can't these guys be truthful?

Scott Walker overstated the state's annual operating share of the Milwaukee-Madison Amtrak extension, as I wrote in 2010:

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 Journal Sentinel had reported it this way:
Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year, not counting the part covered by fares. But [WisDot official Carl Anne] 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.
And in 2011, the paper also reported:
The federal government had awarded the state $810 million in stimulus money to cover the full construction cost of the route, as part of a larger plan for high-speed service from Chicago to the Twin Cities and throughout the Midwest.

But Walker and his fellow Republicans objected to state taxpayers picking up the line's operating costs, initially projected at $7.5 million a year. Revised ridership estimates could have cut $2.8 million off the state share, however, and the state could have used existing federal aid to cover up to 90% of its costs.
And now, The New York Times says a report shows that NJ Gov. Chris Christie has done the same thing:
Mr. Christie also said in 2010 that the state would pay 70 percent of the cost; the report said the state’s share was 14.4 percent. And he said the federal government was requiring the state to pay any cost overruns; the report said that there was no final agreement, and that the federal government had offered to help pay with grants, loans and public-private partnerships.
 Ideological opposition to trains seems to derail the truth.

1 comment:

CG96 said...

One simple answer: They all had to get elected. So, at the convention, they chose to take advantage of all the hostility and disapproval over things like the bailouts and the Stimulus Act of 2009. Rs did internal poling, which showed that people most likely to vote conservative strongly disliked the investments being planned for train service improvements. So, in order to get elected, the Rs had to lie about the costs associated with train service ( and, in other parts of the country, public works). End result: a train service extension that was planned for the previous 15 years, with support from both parties, got targeted for elimination. It got ridiculed, and it was misrepresented as just a Madison - Milwaukee train, when in reality it was the first segment of the planned service through to St. Paul.

Similar to WI, NJ had to overstate the costs in order to make it appear as a "boondoggle" (and get elected on a smaller government platform).