Jindal turns down $300 million in stimulus funds for high-speed rail.

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"Jindal turns down $300 million in stimulus funds for high-speed rail."

Gov. Bobby Jindal In response to President Obama’s national address in February, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pointedly went after stimulus funding for high-speed rail projects as “wasteful spending.” But in August, state officials began drafting plans to request $300 million in stimulus funds to develop a high-speed rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. An official in the state Department of Transportation and Development called the project “a very valuable economic incubator.” The plan had the backing of Louisiana legislators such as Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R), who was pressing Jindal to request the money. Jindal, however, let the midnight Friday deadline pass, allowing his right-wing ideology to win out:

Jindal aides have said the administration is not applying because of concerns about the project’s ongoing costs. They said the state would incur an annual $18 million bill to run the rail system once it became operational. […]

But U.S. Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, R-New Orleans, on Friday called on Jindal to apply for the money. Since all U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill for the stimulus spending, Cao said, the state’s elected officials should see that Louisiana gets its fair share. “It’s our duty to obtain as much as we can to rebuild this region,” Cao said at a news conference at his city’s train station.

He acknowledged “a real concern” about the state’s responsibility for paying the annual costs, but said the overall project would be “an $180 million win for the state of Louisiana.”

Earlier on Friday, Cao had still been optimistic that Jindal would file application for the funding, which was all ready to go. “We’re counting on his leadership in this goal to go beyond any party lines and do what’s right for Louisiana,” Cao said.

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