Train, train, go away: Tea Party Governor-elect Walker compels business to leave state after he kills high-speed rail in Wisconsin

Even before taking office, Republican Govs.-elect John Kasich (OH) and Scott Walker (WI) swiftly delivered on their “promises to kill America’s future” by rebuking a total of $1.2 billion in stimulus funding for high-speed rail projects in their states. Shunning the $810 million for the long-planned Wisconsin rail project, Walker promised to kill the Milwaukee-Madison link if President Obama tried “to force this down the throats of the taxpayers.”

But campaign rhetoric has very real consequences, as this ThinkProgress cross-post makes clear.

Last Thursday “” on the same day the World Congress for High Speed Rail announced the next HSR Congress will be held in America for the first time “” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pulled the funding from Ohio and Wisconsin, offering it instead to states more eager to spur economic development. What’s more, because of Walker’s narrow-minded politics, the Spanish train manufacturing company Talgo, which moved into Wisconsin for this project, is closing its Milwaukee plant and taking the much-needed jobs with it:

Talgo Inc., the Spanish manufacturer of high-speed train cars, will abandon its plant in Milwaukee in 2012, according to Nora Friend, a spokeswoman for the company.[…]

“We can’t stay and manufacture in Milwaukee without the high-speed rail to Madison,” Friend said. “This is terrible news.”

Friend said the state’s decision to back away from the high-speed rail project sends a terrible message to businesses considering locating in the state.

“We were encouraged by the business community,” Friend said. “We are really discouraged by what has happened.”

State residents should also be discouraged, she said. Talgo and the construction of the rail line would have created jobs badly needed in the construction industry.

“For anybody to think that there is another $800 million to invest in another project is foolish,” she said. “There is no other pool of money.”

Talgo currently employs 40 people in Milwaukee, WI and “was hoping to grow their staff to as many as 125 to fulfill the orders” that current Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and his administration had made in preparation for the project. Those orders would’ve spurred some 13,000 badly-needed jobs in a state facing a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. (Ohio will lose 16,000 jobs.) Instead, Talgo plans to take that business to three of the states that will share in the federal money taken away from Wisconsin and Ohio, most notably Florida.

Florida’s Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R) also sounded off against high-speed rail during his campaign but, unlike Walker and Kasich, has waffled on whether he’d actually kill the project. With over $2 billion in stimulus money and the prospect of new business flocking to the state, Scott isn’t as willing to shun such potential economic development as his Tea Party brethren.

But Wisconsinites should not be fooled by the flight of business. As he said on election night, Walker’s victory means “Wisconsin is open again for business” “” regardless of what actually happens.

— Tanya Somanader, in a TP cross-post.

JR:  I thought I would try going ‘Grist’ in some of my headlines this holiday season

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16 Responses to Train, train, go away: Tea Party Governor-elect Walker compels business to leave state after he kills high-speed rail in Wisconsin

  1. James Giese says:

    As a resident of Madison, WI, I can’t tell you how disappointing the failure of Walker to move beyond his bombastic campaign rhetoric is. He fails to see or refuses to see that this is not about short term costs, but about long term smart economic development.

  2. Mossy says:

    My mother listens to conservative talk show radio in Ohio. She heard that this high speed rail train was only going to travel 30 mph, so it was a “real joke.” She latched on to this statement and did not question its veracity. We could not convince her otherwise, as we’re living in the ultra-liberal state of MA, which guarantees us no credentials.

    Multiply this reaction by millions; this is what we’re up against.

  3. Lore says:

    “Multiply this reaction by millions; this is what we’re up against.”

    There are none so blind as those that will not see.

  4. malcreado says:

    Would personally like to thank the Tea Party. I hear over 40 Million that was going to those states will now come to my state. We are more than happy to have those jobs.

  5. Dean says:

    It used to be that governors were less ideological due to the proximity and immediacy of their responsibilities. But Gov Crist’s recent experience in Florida demonstrates that this boundary to ideological partisanship has been fully breached. The only Republican Governors who will think first for their state are those who have no further political aspirations.

  6. J. Bob says:

    #2 Mossy, it may interest you to know that the trains using the existing lines in the Twin Cities to Chicago corridor, have to show down to 30 mph., in the cities they go through. That causes a big hit in the total time from Mpls. to Chicago. You don’t “highball” through cities where houses are less then 50 meters from the tracks.

    A better solution, would be to bring back the 2 track system, instead of the current 1 track, with sidings.

  7. robert says:

    Congratulations Wisconsin! Walker is doing EXACTLY what he said he’d do. Something about “Making your bed…” comes to mind…

  8. Peter F says:

    As a resident of the relatively progressive state of Washington I would like to thank Walker and Kashich. Because of them it was announced a few days ago that we’ll likely be getting another $161 million for our rail network on top of the $590 million we got earlier this year.

    If we are to solve the mounting problems so well enumerated and explicated on this blog we will need not only to stand up and make better choices in our daily lives (like not flying for pleasure), but we’ll also need to work hard to support more progressive, science-based decision-makers running for political positions, such as Washington State’s Governor Gregoire, Senators Murray and Cantwell, and Representative Inslee.

    That said, no one is doing enough. Not one of them appears to be in emergency mode on the climate.

  9. Barry says:

    Voters remorse: “OH WI did what?!?”

    As a person who has given up high-climate-damage jet travel in recent years in favour of bus and amtrak, I can only say: “I want high-speed rail, please.” As oil pricing continues upwards and carbon pricing lands on jet fuels, lots more people are going to be looking for a quick, affordable and luxurious train ride as well.

    Fortunately for me, the OH-WIs just dumped over $150,000,000 MORE into my region to help make OUR high-speed rail even better.

    I never thought I’d say this but: “Thank you tea party voters”.

    Hey OH-WIs, while you are at it, can we have your clean energy stimulus too? Please.


  10. MarkF says:

    Thailand and China have agreed in principle on a 250-billion-baht joint investment in a high-speed rail project linking Nong Khai in the Northeast with Bangkok and continuing to the southern border town of Padang Besar, a total distance of 1,500 kilometres.

    The target speed of the rail project is 200-250km/h, with the entire project taking four years to complete.

    Investment is estimated at 248 billion baht with a projection of 41,000 passengers one way per day in 2017.

    The project has an estimated 19.1% economic investment rate of return.

    “19.1 % return.”

  11. BBHY says:

    “Stupid is as stupid does” – Forrest Gump

  12. dhogaza says:

    J Bob:

    “it may interest you to know that the trains using the existing lines in the Twin Cities to Chicago corridor, have to show down to 30 mph., in the cities they go through.”

    Yeah, and the AVE slows down when it reaches Madrid as it approaches Atocha. It still gets you to Sevilla in about 1/2 the time it takes you to drive there.

    It’s just as meaningful to point out that the train slows down to 0 mph when people embark and disembark…

    I supposed in your world everyone drives 70 MPH as they pull into their driveways?

    (I won’t point out that the AVE goes 250 kph (old model) or 350 kph (newer model) because I know the train proposal in Wisconsin wasn’t for true high-speed rail, but rather something like the Talga service we currently have between PDX and SEA, which tops out about 20 mph over the I5 speed limit.)

  13. Bryn says:

    A little known fact about high speed rail. As your Talgo/TGV/ICE hits 200kph it passes through the prejudice barrier.
    High speed rail, Mercedes cars, universal healthcare – those socialist Europeans have got a damn nerve!

  14. Solar Jim says:

    Young children should not be allowed to play with electric trains. That’s for grownups. Some are modelers. Some are employed on the railroad.

    I lived in Ohio for ten years and never realized it was capable of this level of ignorance. Maybe they’re excited about tar-sands oil refiners coming to town instead, and paying $4 – 5 for gas. Apollo Alliance indicates the good people of Ohio would have been of great assist in the coming railroad build-out, now a national imperative.

  15. Anonymous says:

    When States stop building Transportation – States stop growing