Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida — the Republican governors in each of these states recently aborted a major rail project claiming it was too expensive. Their methods were remarkably similar; their justifications aligned. In many ways, it was like they were all working from the same playbook.
Now that the Government Accountability Office has exposed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s distortions (a.k.a. lies) to justify killing the ARC rail tunnel project to Manhattan, it makes you wonder if similar investigations in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida would reveal the same.
Today James Rowen, who writes The Political Environment blog out of Milwaukee, reminded readers that he was pointing out the distortions put forward by Wisconsin Governor Scott “No Train” Walker more than a year ago. In August 2010, Scott Walker, then a candidate for governor, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the train would cost Wisconsin $8 million annually to operate.
Meanwhile the newspaper reported the actual cost to the state would be less than one-tenth of his claim:
Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year, not counting the part covered by fares. But [WisDot official Carl Anne] Renlund said the state is already using federal funds to cover 90% of the Hiawatha’s $5.2 million annual operating cost – leaving $520,000 a year for state taxpayers to pick up – and hopes to do the same with the new line. That would mean state taxpayers would be paying $750,000 a year for the service to Madison.
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich also relied on half-truths or worst-case scenarios in his campaign to kill Ohio’s 3C Rail project. Kasich repeated over and over that the train would be too slow to attract passengers, traveling at an average speed of 39 miles per hour. “The 39 mph high-speed train is dead when I become governor,” he told Ohio reporters.
Kasich did not change his tune when the plan was altered to raise the average speed to 50 miles per hour, as reported by Martin Gottlieb of the Dayton Daily News in October 2010: