Tuesday, September 10, 2019

When Walker's hostility to Amtrak is aired, don't forget the 'math' he used to derail it

I see social media highlighting this piece in the Door County Daily News:
Civil Discourse: High Speed Rail Would Have Been Better Bet Than Foxconn
Wisconsin turned down more than $800 million in federal stimulus money in 2010 that would have created high-speed rail corridors between Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis. 
Turning down that money will cost Wisconsin far more than it will ever gain from Foxconn. 
No argument from me; I'm glad to see that commentary and history debated and absorbed, especially in the context of $3 billion in state subsidies promised to Foxconn for production and employment that has gone from dubious to fanciful to farcical.
Talgo trains built for Amtrak in Milwaukee which Walker and GOP legislators made sure never operated here.

But I want to memorialize - - as I did earlier - - Walker's cavalier manipulation of numbers to justify what was in truth his partisan, politically-inspired and right-wing attack on urban rail and the state's biggest cities by focusing on one set of Walker statements and numbers.

Walker claimed if the Amtrak line was completed, state taxpayers would have to contribute $7.5 million (or more) annually for its operation.

That's $625,000 a month.

Walker's first two-year budget in 2011 called for spending $64.1 billion, or $2.76 billion every month. Fractions of pennies on the Foxconn dollar.

But wait: It turns out that Walker's annual Amtrak annual payment estimate of $7.5 million could have been vastly overstated, according to reporting at the time by The Journal Sentinel's Larry Sandler:

Even with the federal government picking up the line's full construction cost, Walker has said he doesn't want state taxpayers to pay operating costs, projected at $7.5 million a year, starting in 2013. 
A state transportation official has said state taxpayers' share could be as little as $750,000 a year, if federal aid covers 90% of operating costs, as it does for Amtrak's existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line.
But wait, again, because Sandler quoted Walker saying the annual Amtrak operating cost to Wisconsin taxpayers could be even more costly than his $7.5 million pronouncement:
"The whole reason we made a point of raising our concerns about this is I don't want the taxpayers of this state to be stuck with a bill of $7½ (million) to $10 million a year when we have roads and bridges that need to be fixed," Walker said.
So $750,000 jumped to $7.5 million, and then by a third to $10 million?

I'll leave it at that for now. It's almost time for my morning coffee - - no robot involved. 

Feel free to fix my math and fill in your comments about the roads, bridges and Scottholes Walker didn't fix.

1 comment:

Jake formerly of the LP said...

And that "unaffordable" $7.5 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the extra money Walker blew on voucher schools and WEDC giveaways.

Republicans dont spend less money. They just spend it on different (stupider, more corrupt) things.