The AP reported earlier this month that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) administration is planning to request $300 million dollars from the federal government to develop a high-speed rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The trains, which would run at about 79mph, would be part of a larger Gulf Coast rail plan with top speeds of 110mph. Much of the money, however, comes from the Recovery Act, a stimulus measure Jindal not only opposed, but recently called a failure.
In opposing the Recovery Act, Jindal offered the Republican party’s official response to President Obama’s nationwide address last February. Jindal specifically smeared high-speed rail projects as “wasteful spending”:
JINDAL: While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a “magnetic levitation” line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called “volcano monitoring.”
Despite Jindal’s political grandstanding, officials in his own administration have praised the idea of high-speed rail. “Long term, we see it as a very valuable economic incubator for the entire corridor, ” said Tom Atkinson, an official in the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
Jindal is trying to have it both ways on the Recovery Act. Though he slams it as a “stimulus that has not stimulated,” Jindal recently went on a 64-parish tour handing out jumbo-sized ceremonial checks filled largely with Recovery Act funds (view a compilation of Jindal’s check giveaways here). Rather than acknowledging the source of the money, Jindal printed his own name on the checks.
Though Jindal has been rapidly spending stimulus money for infrastructure projects around the state, his administration has refused to put up signs disclosing each project has been funded by Recovery Act.