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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our view: Walker must trust rail project

From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:

The Tribune’s endorsement of Scott Walker for governor included this sentence: “We think Walker is absolutely wrong about high-speed rail … and he needs to understand that he’ll be the governor of the entire state, not just Milwaukee County.”

Gov.-elect Walker, we still think you’re absolutely wrong.

You said Monday that you don’t anticipate anything that will change your mind, but we suggest an overriding issue that should serve as the tipping point: If money leaves the pockets of Wisconsin taxpayers and goes to the state of New York to build high-speed rail and create jobs and commerce, it’s a lousy deal for Wisconsin.

During the campaign, Walker assured everyone that Wisconsin could take the federal money designated for extending high-speed rail from Milwaukee to Madison — more than $800 million — and use it for other infrastructure improvements, such as road and bridge repair and construction.

While we think that approach is short-sighted, at least it would have kept money earmarked for the Badger State here.

On Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — a former Republican congressman from Illinois — said that if Walker persists at halting the high-speed rail project, Wisconsin will lose that money to another state.

“None of the money provided to Wisconsin may be used for road or highway projects, or anything other than high-speed rail,” LaHood said. “Consequently, unless you change your position, we plan to engage in an orderly transition to wind down Wisconsin’s project so we do not waste taxpayers’ money.”

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