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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Walker says he will stop train project to Milwaukee

From an article by Clay Barbour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Some $800 million in contracts, a series of difficult legal hurdles and a struggling economy will not stop Governor-elect Scott Walker from doing what he promised on the campaign trail — stopping the train.

Walker, a Republican, soundly defeated Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for the right to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. He takes power Jan. 1.

The Milwaukee County executive ran a strong campaign on a series of checkbook issues, vowing to cut government spending by $300 million, bring 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin and roll back $1.8 billion in tax increases approved last year.

But few issues so caught the public's attention as Walker's promise to stop the $810 million Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger rail project, a project officials hope one day will link the Midwest, from Chicago to Minneapolis.

Wisconsin transportation officials earlier this week signed a deal to commit the state to spending all of the $810 million in federal stimulus money on rail project, a significant move because it makes it harder for rail opponents like Walker to stop it.

Many political experts felt Walker was simply using the train to gin up voters, never truly intending to bring a halt to the project — a move that could end up costing the state millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Some assumed Doyle rushed the contracts through in an effort to tie the governor-elect's hands.

But on Wednesday, Walker reiterated his intention to stop the train and said he believed there was a way to do it without the state losing its shirt.

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