GOP Governors Scuttle Rail Projects

Incoming GOP governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have refused to accept more than $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money slated for high-speed rail projects, a move that will cost those states thousands of high-skill, high-value jobs.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood confirmed that funds originally slated to go to Wisconsin and Ohio will now be redirected, with $624 million going to California for its link between Los Angeles and San Francisco and $342 million is going to Florida. The remainder will be divided among Washington and 10 other states.

In Wisconsin, outgoing governor Jim Doyle said over 4,700 jobs directly related to the high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison would have been created at the height of construction. Incoming Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich has dismissed high-speed rail advocates as members of a “train cult.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tried unsuccessfully to change Wisconsin Governor-elect Walker’s mind before the funds were pulled. “There is no shortage of enthusiasm and energy in almost all 50 states in America for some form of high-speed inter-city rail,” LaHood said.

In Florida, where incoming Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott says he hasn’t made up his mind about allowing rail projects there to go forward there. Florida’s Department of Transportation estimates close to 10,000 people would be employed in jobs directly related to the high-speed rail line during the height of construction and thousands more would be employed in indirect jobs.