Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker has succeeded in his first major initiative: getting rid of $800 million in federal money for the construction of a high-speed rail system that would create jobs now and keep Wisconsin on the cutting edge of 21st century transportation development.
The federal government has taken the money back and will now distribute it to states that recognize not just the large amount of money but the opportunity that is being presented them.
Notably, the states that will be competing for what was Wisconsin’s money are led by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.
Walker is the outlier on this issue. Unfortunately, he has made Wisconsin an outlier as well.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, summed things up when she responded to the news by saying: “This is a terribly sad day for Wisconsin. By pledging to stop the high-speed rail project in our state, Gov.-elect Walker is denying jobs to Wisconsinites when they are desperately needed and sending the message that Wisconsin is not open to innovation, new business, and the economic development we need to grow and thrive in the 21st century. We are witnessing the ugly triumph of politics over progress and the people of Wisconsin will suffer the consequences for decades to come.”
Walker is not yet governor. But he has already cost the state $800 million and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jobs.
And that is not the worst of it.
The high-speed rail project really was an investment in the future. Walker’s choices have made that future more tenuous.
We are disappointed, of course. But we are also worried.
A governor who chooses to score political points in the moment while rejecting sound arguments about what needs to be done to plan and provide for the state’s future is more than just misguided.
Before he has even sworn his oath to protect and serve the state, he has done it damage.
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