You would figure that Scott Walker would have had the slightest feeling of responsibility for job losses when he foolishly and cluelessly threw $810 million out the window with the rail project. When Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told Walker that his wish to use the Stimulus money for roads was not going to happen, Walker could have looked at how that would have impacted the state.
The Republican talking point (and lie) that it “would have been a boondoggle” doesn’t take in consideration that the amount of money to manage the rail system is only 1% of the Wisconsin annual transportation budget and would cost $1 for every Wisconsin taxpayer to have to make it work. That’s a “boondoggle”?
Now that the reality of Walker’s economically treasonous decision to strap Wisconsin taxpayers to pay $100 million in taxes to pay for his mistake and get nothing is sinking in, it’s becoming apparent that his nefarious intentions appear to be to attempt to shut off other opportunities, jobs and choices for the cities that would have benefited from the rail system. It could be seen as a case study on how one who is supposed to support the citizens he or she represents decides to think more about personal pride that what would be the correct thing to do.
Of course, Walker is the type of Republican who has a chip on his shoulder about Madison. So maybe his paranoid conspiracy-laden mind is part of his decision to screw over “liberal” Madison for his Republican buddies.
“As I said along the campaign trail, we didn’t need and couldn’t afford the Madison to Milwaukee rail line,” he said in a prepared statement last week. “While I would have preferred to have the $810 million reallocated to repair our crumbling roads and bridges, I am glad that the transportation fund will not be on the hook for a minimum of $7.5 million of operating subsidies every year.”
Still, there are some downsides to the decision that Walker chose not to mention. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the construction of the rail line would have directly created 1,100 jobs in the first year, 3,483 in the second year, 4,732 in the third year, and 1,542 jobs in the fourth year. In addition, the Talgo train manufacturing plant that located in Milwaukee to produce trains for the Midwest rail lines as well as the rest of the nation’s high-speed rail system will now close in 2012, according to a company representative, and more than half of the 125 employees expected to be working at that time will likely be laid off.
For Madison, Cieslewicz says the loss of high-speed rail could have serious effects on the redevelopment of the two city blocks across from the proposed station. The city will have to build a new parking ramp as planned in the near future, but some of the elements of the city’s plan that assumed a busy rail station would be present downtown, including the public market, convention center hotel and multi-modal transit hub, may be delayed or even scrapped.
“We were considering all those other projects independently before we learned about high-speed rail coming to the city, but then the high-speed rail station was a catalyst and centerpiece that pulled all those together,” Cieslewicz says. “Without it, the projects still might work independently, but we’ve lost that impetus of” a half-million additional people stopping downtown.
As for tourism, some say it would take only a small fraction of Chicagoans coming up to Madison for a Badger game or an Overture performance to make a big economic impact.
“Just think about the Overture Center,” says Ald. Chris Schmidt, who sits on the city’s Transit and Parking Commission. “Just assume that every year, the train would enable 10,000 people to travel up to Madison to visit and catch a show. That’s a tiny fraction of the Chicago population. Let’s say each of them spend $150 on average. You’re already at $1.5 million” injected into the local economy each year.
Throwing away about 11,000 jobs before he is even sworn in as governor certainly puts Walker in a category of someone who should be impeached as quickly as possible. A Recall Election would take too long. But as most of those who follow politics know, Republicans who will be working in Madison will be locksteppers and allow Wisconsin to get even more inflicted with WalkerFail.