Even before taking the oath of office as governor of Wisconsin, Governor-elect Scott Walker has already achieved one of his major campaign promises -- to send taxpayer-wasted high-speed rail grant money back to Washington. Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that the grant funds would be rescinded.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pulled $1.2 billion in stimulus rail funds from Wisconsin and Ohio, because their new Republican governors didn’t want them. Thirteen other states will share the money for their high-speed trains. Walker said he now hopes Washington will focus on the “true needs” of Wisconsin and other states – and that’s quote, “fixing our crumbling roads and bridges.”
Walker said LaHood assured him the state won’t have to pay the federal government for what it spent on the new train. LaHood agreed to let Wisconsin keep two-million-dollars for upgrades on Amtrak’s current high-speed Hiawatha train from Milwaukee-to-Chicago. But the stimulus funding that was lost included $72-million for a new train shed and a maintenance base for the Hiawatha. Outgoing Governor Jim Doyle had said a separate $12-million-dollar grant for the Hiawatha line would also be in danger – but there was no word on that from Washington yesterday.