Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Take The Nay Train

Wisconsin has elected a Republican, Scott Walker, as their next governor. One of Mr. Walker’s campaign promises was to refuse to take the money from the federal government to build high-speed rail in the state, claiming it was too expensive. (Ohio’s governor-elect, John Kasich, did the same thing. The Department of Transportation obliged, and sent some of the money to Florida. Thanks, guys!) But as Think Progress notes, this fiscal tightness has had another consequence that may come back to bite Mr. Walker.

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.

I’m not an economist, but it’s not complicated to figure out that the point of stimulus money is to attract private industry like Talgo to come to your state to invest in something permanent and on-going such as a railroad system that will provide jobs and get the economy going again. Mr. Walker’s refusal to take the funds for the rail system is like the guy with the dead battery who refuses the offer of jumper cables because to get a boost from another car would be a sign of weakness on the part of his Die-Hard, and he’s sure that if he waits long enough, it will start all by itself.