What's more fiscally irresponsible: The high-speed rail or tax breaks that aren't paid for? PART ONE
Post by Adam Schabow on 11/29/2010 8:50pm
It seems many of the same Wisconsinites who are touting fiscal responsibility as a reason to stop the high-speed rail project are also supporting both State and Federal tax breaks for the rich that are not paid for and adds billions of dollars to the deficit.
After calling the high-speed rail a "boondogal" even before the train has been built, Governor-elect Scott Walker has found that if he truly wants to fulfill his promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin, he may need to give in and keep the train a movin'.
Currently Walker is trying to convince train manufacturer Talgo to stay in Wisconsin even though he has proudly declared to stop the train. Walker may very well start his governorship in the negative, losing Talgo and other small businesses connected to the rail project. In fact, the rhetoric that may have helped Walker get elected may very well hurt his chances to succeed in his job creation promise.
As of right now, Walker is willing to throw away $100 million that have already been invested in the project, lose 13,000 jobs the rail will create and give the rest of the money to IL or NY where both republicans and democrats in those areas would gladly take the money that Wisconsin would embarrassingly pass on.
On November 21st, BrewCity101 talked to One Wisconsin Now director Scot Ross regarding their "Save the Train" petition and why Wisconsin should not pass on this unique opportunity.
Ross discussed the benefits. "$822 million worth of work and $3.5 to $4.6 billion over the next several decades in reduced travel time. Reduced congestion and reduced contamination resource." Ross adds, "One big thing being lost in the debate is reducing the state's dependence on foreign oil. Everybody knows that this is one of the greatest national vulnerabilities."
"This (high-speed rail) is something that Wisconsin has headed towards for decades." Ross continued. "Former Governor Tommy Thompson was a huge champion for high-speed rail. And in fact, our governor elect Scott Walker voted for a number of pro-rail initiatives that Thompson supported. So his politically calculated flip flop on this is disingenuous and near soulless hypocrisy on his part."
While some poll numbers may say otherwise, Ross disagrees that most Wisconsinites do not want the train. "What you have is some vocal republican politicians that are saying they don't want rail. There has not been a vote on high-speed rail. And every piece of survey research shows that people do want proper investment in a 21st century system."
One Wisconsin Now's "Save the Train" petition exploded and within the first 5 days, they received 5,000 signatures. Ross has never seen such enthusiasm on-line before and believes they have record setting numbers for any on-line petition in the state of Wisconsin. As of this week, One Wisconsin Now has "over 7,000 signed."
Ross believes the whole push back against the train had to do with partisan politics and Scott Walker trying to win the Republican primary. "They made the calculated decision that in order to call for whole sale change, the republicans like Walker, had to say that literally anything done that was passed into law by democrats was a bad idea."
Some Wisconsinites believe that people will simply not ride the train from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison (with many stops in between) and eventually to Minneapolis. But Amtrack's growth in the U.S. proves that may not be accurate. Like it or not, people are riding the train in both rural and commercial areas all around the country and is growing in popularity. The more states that are connected to rail, the more chances that state has for a significant bump in tourism as well as a chance for a booming economy.
Others believe the train will be "heavily" subsidized which will bankrupt Wisconsin. Of course, like all transportation, the train will be subsidized, but it is projected to cost the state of Wisconsin $7.5 million, which isn't much within the State's massive budget.
Despite what the positive research shows regarding high-speed rail, Ross states that trying to find logic in Walker's arguments for opposing rail is an exercise in futility. "It's just an extension of what republicans did throughout the last two years when America's economy was going to collapse...and that is, they say 'No'."
Stay tuned this week for part two, where we delve into the hypocrisy of touting fiscal responsibility while still supporting tax breaks not being paid for. We ask the question, "What is more fiscally irresponsible: The high-speed rail or tax breaks that aren't paid for?"From One Wisconsin Now-
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is holding a series of public hearings regarding high-speed rail.
The meetings will run from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and will take place in the following cities over the next week:
Tuesday, Nov. 30 in La Crosse at the Best Western Riverfront Hotel, 1835 Rose St.
Wednesday, Dec. 1 in Eau Claire at the Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel, 3340 Mondovi Road
Thursday, Dec. 2 in Fond du Lac at UW-Fond du Lac
Tuesday, Dec. 7 in Madison at the WisDOT Southwest Region Office, 2101 Wright Street
As of right now, it doesn't appear there is a hearing set for Milwaukee. We're not sure why that is, but BrewCity101 is looking into it.