Milwaukee County Executive and GOP Gubernatorial candidate, Scott Walker has done it again. In today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he argues against accepting funding for the Madison – Milwaukee high speed rail, unless funds for operating the trains are provided. This short-sightedness reflects the lack of progressive, pro-growth and future-oriented thinking that Mr. Walker has shown in Milwaukee County and would bring to the Governor’s seat should we be so unfortunate as to place him there. I for one, want to see a visionary, pro-business, pro-growth individual managing the reigns of government; not a penny-pinching, backwards-looking reactionary.
Tom Barrett Milwaukee’s Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful had this to say about the train:
“… the project shows “the power of partnerships” with the president and the state.
“It’s an incredible day for the state of Wisconsin. I know people personally who are applying for a job in Madison and who would love to use this high-speed rail,” he said, referring to his run for governor.”
Meanwhile, Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a technology boosting and networking group, had this to say about Wisconsin’s getting a piece of the federal largesse in a recent editorial in Wisconsin Technology Network:
“Since the 1960s, Wisconsin has largely stood by while other states aggressively competed for their fair share of federal grants and aid. That bottom-quartile performance among the 50 states is why Wisconsin has long been known as a “tax donor” state, meaning its taxpayers contribute far more to the feds than they get in return.
Now an award of $810 million in federal stimulus money will extend high-speed rail from the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor to Madison and, in time, to the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. For once, Wisconsin got to the train station on time.”
Not only was he extolling our getting a piece of the pie, but he and the Council see the train contributing to the “I-Q corridor” through high tech collaboration to provide economic value and benefits including:
- Better connections for Wisconsin
- Better connections for the region
- More travel choices make sense
- High speed rail use growing
- Job creation
If anything, we should take the funds to invest in this first generation of “high speed rail” and be looking at how to get real high speed rail not only here, but elsewhere in high density corridors throughout the United States. Once again, we’re falling behind as can be seen by the high speed rail network that is being built in China while “spurring growth” according to The New York Times. China is set to have 42 high speed rail lines by 2012 according to the article. Here’s what else they had to say about these high speed trains:
“Indeed, the web of super-fast trains promises to make China even more economically competitive, connecting this vast country — roughly the same size as the United States — as never before, much as the building of the Interstate highway system increased productivity and reduced costs in America a half century ago.
As China upgrades and expands its rail system, it creates the economies of large-scale production for another big export industry. “The sheer volume of equipment that they will require, and the technology that will have to be developed, will simply catapult them into a leadership position,“ said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s vice president for policy and development.”
Now which perspective would you rather see – backwards looking, penny-pinching Walker or forward-looking future making, economy building Barrett?