US Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood was in WI to release 46.7 million stimulus dollars designated for a train line between Milwaukee and Madison. LaHood declared, "High-speed rail is coming to WI," and "there's no stopping it." Public support in the Madison-Milwaukee corridor has eroded as weary taxpayers drive on crumbling roads and bridges and are told there is no money to repair them.
But Obama/LaHood are forcing WI to continue building a train WI doesn't want and cannot afford. The decision to saddle WI taxpayers forever with untold millions in operating and maintenance costs was never debated or voted on by the WI legislature. It is a MANDATE by the federal government.
The cost estimate for this boondoggle is $810 million, plus operating costs, forever. Studies show that rail passenger fares are likely to cover only 20% of the operating/maintenance costs. That leaves WI families to pick up the other 80% through higher taxes and fees. And the increases won't be limited to WI families living in the rail corridor. It will be paid for by all WI taxpayers.
One argument in support of the rail line says spending $810 million on high-speed rail will create thousands of WI jobs. But according to the federal government's own estimate the total number of permanent jobs created will be 55. That's $14.5 million per job. Wow, isn't that a smart way to spend money?
WI is facing a $2.5 billion hole in next year's budget and a long list of roads/bridges in desperate need of repair.
Now for the information you need to know. Scott Walker is running for governor of WI. He has said in a letter to Obama: "I am drawing a line in the sand, Mr. President. No matter how much money you and Governor Doyle try to spend before the end of the year, I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office." "Governor Doyle and Sec LaHood say we can't stop the train. I say, just watch us."
On the other hand, Tom Barrett, who is also running for governor, has made the Milwaukee to Madison train the centerpiece of this economic development plan for WI. He is squarely in favor of it.
Remember this when you vote in November. You can decide: Barrett = more spending, more taxes and bigger deficits; or, Walker = reduce spending, reduce taxes, smaller government, and balance our budget.
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