From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:
Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to reject $810 million in federal funding for high-speed rail is turning in to the gift that keeps on giving for everyone but the residents of our part of the state.
Worse, it’s costing all taxpayers in Wisconsin more than it needs to – millions and millions of dollars more, according to one analysis.
And western Wisconsin won’t get so much as a train whistle out of the deal.
Earlier this week, a legislative committee in Madison agreed to spend $31.6 million on the Hiawatha rail line between Chicago and Milwaukee. The Hiawatha line makes the trip seven times daily and carried nearly 800,000 passengers last year.
Oh, did we mention that work on the Hiawatha line would have been funded as part of the $810 million grant from the federal government because it was an extension of the now-deceased high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison?
So, let’s review: Wisconsin gives back $810 million. It won’t receive high-speed rail. And, as a bonus, we agree to spend $31.6 million out of our pockets – much of it borrowed – for work that the feds would have funded.
But wait, there’s more:
There’s also the ongoing operating costs as well as the need to pay for maintenance bases and train sheds and locomotives and signals, according to an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Added up, the analysis shows that the federal grant could have paid for up to $99 million that Wisconsin taxpayers will now have to fund.
All of that is incredible when you consider that the Walker administration objected to high-speed rail through Wisconsin because of the ongoing costs.