Walker’s opening act: destroying a golden opportunity for jobs, infrastructure and economic development that took years to create…

“Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world,” said Linus.

“That’s a good story,” said Sally Brown.

* * *

Scott Walker says diverting the $810 million from the feds to build a rail line between Milwaukee and Madison for road and bridge repair work instead will spur job creation and expand the state’s economy.

“That’s a good story,” I say.

* * *

Today’s Capital Times:

It’s not just Wisconsin businesses and community leaders, including the mayors of the state’s two largest cities, telling Walker he is wrong.

It’s not just the Obama administration telling Walker he is wrong.

Walker’s fellow Republicans — at least the honest ones — are telling the governor-elect the same thing. (That would be Congressman Tom Petri of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and former Republican Congressman Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary.)

* * *

Scott Walker had no problem with what will turn out to be more than a half billion taxpayer dollars for Miller Park (and I don’t remember the big federal grant for that one.)   But an annual outlay by the state equal to less than one percent of the federal outlay for a critical piece of infrastructure is now way too much.  I’ve worked with economic development projects for a long time.  If you can’t make this kind of leverage work for you with jobs, economic impact and the most modest of potential state participation, then there will be essentially  no projects that can be justified during the coming term, based on this precedent. 

The Transportation Development Association’s position when they did a fly-in to lobby in Washington D.C. in 2009 included the following:

• Support President Obama’s budget proposal for $1 billion intercity passenger rail capital funding for states (80% federal and 20% state cost sharing) annually over the next 5 years.
 
• Support the recommendations of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to provide at least $5 billion annually in intercity passenger rail capital funding for states (80% federal and 20% state cost sharing) over the next six years as a dedicated funding program within the surface transportation authorization bill.
 
• Support high-speed rail in Wisconsin, and Governor Doyle’s plan to seek federal stimulus funds to pay for the Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train line.
 
September 21, 2010, Craig Thompson, Executive Director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin was keynoting the Annual Meeting of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition.  I don’t think he was there to oppose rail.  So where’s the strong advocacy for their position since Walker moved to deep-six the very same project they’ve been supporting for years?  If it was worth talking about in Washington, it should be worth strong backing here, with the money already in hand, shouldn’t it? 

JR

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