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Democrats: Walker’s train refusal could cost taxpayers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Democratic state lawmakers are asking Gov.-elect Scott Walker to explain how he’ll pay for certain train-related expenses after the Republican refused federal money that would have covered them.

Walker turned down $810 million to build high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee. He said the state could get stuck paying for upkeep.

Mark Pocan in the Assembly and Mark Miller of the Senate told Walker on Wednesday his refusal means Wisconsin taxpayers could now be liable for related projects worth $101 million.

Those include $52 million for a train-maintenance facility and $30 million for freight-rail upgrades.

However, fiscal analyst Jon Dyck of the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau said lawmakers have the option of scaling back the projects to save money.

Walker’s office didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  1. The L A Times said it best, turning down the rail funding is like turning down a new car because you don’t want to pay for the gas or insurance. And I can tell you that working right now out of Wisconsin on an oil refinery project, people coast to coast are laughing at us and our newly elected govenor. He has sent a clear signal accross the country that he wants nothing new, but rather go backwards. And I must state this again, what is anyone going to do when gas hits $10/gal. Its’ coming and it’s coming soon.

  2. At $10/gal one can still get from Milwaukee to Madison cheaper by car than by the proposed train.

  3. $.50+ a mile to operate a car at current gas prices = $40 from Milwaukee to Madison

    Then you have to park it (which really adds up if you are staying overnight)… and you still have to drive (a lot of professionals time working while riding at 1 hour is worth $75 or more) and could see a lot of delays due to weather or traffic. This is only taking intio account the shortest leg fo the trip… start running the math to Chicago from Madison or Minny from Milwaukee (future) and the economics become even more slanted towards the train.

    Regardless, I just learned of another company today (non-train industry) that will likely leave the state because of the train getting rejected… can’t say who it is due to confidentiality. OOPS. CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.

  4. Rick Libertarianski

    Sure oil is gonna go up, that includes the diesel to power the train!
    Really tho, how many “urban professionals” will need to visit Milwaukee with it’s 23% + unemployed anywho? The proposed train between Mad-City (the Berkeley of the Midwest” wouldn’t have even arrived near the Amtrak station in Milwaukee in order for one to proceed to Chicago or points beyond.

  5. Irwin, where will the train maintenance money come from? Even if it is scaled back it will be coming out of your taxes. Do you understand that? You traded one tax bill for another and have nothing to show for it. How fiscally responsible.

  6. Concerned, do you understand that, depending on the federal maintenance subsidy, which we’re also now just sending someplace else, it would take between 100 and 1000 years for the maintenance money to equal the sum we just shipped to California and Florida? Who turns down $800 with a dollar-a-year commitment?

  7. Sorry Abe, just because the government allows a .50/mile allowance for taxes does not mean that that is what it costs to drive. That .50/mile is intended to cover all ownership costs. Regarless of whether you drive to the train station or Madison your car payment will be the same as will your insurance. Parking costs would still be an issue for the majority that would still have to drive and park near the train stations.

    Concerned, you may want to re-read your post. I am aware that the train was expected to run at a $7.5 million dollar annual deficit that would come out of the Wisconsin budget. There would not be any significant off setting savings in road maintenance costs as the traffic volume, particularly of heavy vehicles, would not go down much. So, we would be saddled with an extra $7.5 million/year for a item that would serve little use in our market.

    pjmad, just because someone wants to give you something does not mean that it makes sense that you take it. Remember, at the end of the day the government does not give anything to anyone. The $ they “give away” started as our money. We are lucky if they give it back to us at 75 cents on the dollar and then often make us spend it on something we don’t need. What a bargain.

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