Scott Walker’s Refusal of Federal Rail Money Leaves Wisconsin Taxpayers On the Hook for $84 Million

Dec 08, 2011

MADISON – Analysis released yesterday by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that Wisconsin taxpayers will now have to shoulder the financial burden of Scott Walker’s short-sighted rejection of federal rail funds, paying as much as $84 million for expenditures that would have been covered under the federal grant.

Read the analysis here.

Included in the costs are maintenance equipment and a temporary facility to house the state’s already-purchased Talgo train cars, design engineering, real estate acquisition and construction of a permanent maintenance facility and required improvements to the existing downtown Milwaukee train station to bring the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In rejecting federal rail funds, Walker cited the state’s burden of annual operating costs, originally estimated to be approximately $7.5 million. Revised estimates, coupled with the news that federal aid could cover up to 90% of the state’s costs, reduced the state’s annual costs to as low as $750,000. Using that metric, Wisconsin could have paid for 112 years of maintenance on the high speed rail line for the same amount it is paying for work that would have been covered under the federal allocation.

“Scott Walker claimed he was coming to Madison to create jobs and reduce state spending, yet at every turn he is shedding jobs and racking up charges on the backs of working Wisconsin families to pay for his rigid ideological policies,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Friday. “That Wisconsinites will be on the hook for $84 million that would have been covered with federal funds if not for Scott Walker’s rejection is just another example of how Walker can’t see the forest for the trees. His refusal to invest in green jobs and technologies, clean air and water, education and healthcare for those in need will cost Wisconsinites for years to come.”