Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that he’s shifting more than $1.2 billion in stimulus money for high-speed rail construction originally earmarked for Wisconsin and Ohio to other states.
LaHood was making good on a promise to shift the $810 million allotted for Wisconsin’s proposed Milwaukee-to-Madison corridor and the $400 million for the proposed Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland rail line. In both of those states, the current Republican governors-elect had campaigned on the promise that they would kill the projects, funded by the $787 billion federal stimulus, if they won.
LaHood said that the money will instead go to projects in 14 other states, with about $1 billion of the money being shifted to high-speed rail projects in California, Florida, and Washington state.
“I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life,” LaHood said.
The Obama administration’s decision to pull the funds comes after Republicans leaders vowed in their Pledge to America to cancel any unspent stimulus funds as part of their effort cut federal spending back to 2008 levels.
During his campaign, Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker said that the rail would be too expensive for the state to maintain and that he would cancel the project. Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich also rejected his state’s project and called on President Obama to let Ohio shift the money to other infrastructure projects instead of giving it to other states.
LaHood’s decision does not come as a surprise. He notified Walker days after he was elected that the money could only be used for high-speed rail projects and that he would shift the money to other states if Wisconsin didn’t want it.
Last month, three Wisconsin Republican lawmakers -- Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan, and Tom Petri -- introduced a bill that would have allowed states to shift high-speed rail money to pay for deficit reduction.
"I am glad Wisconsin taxpayers will not be forced to pay for a project they neither need nor want, but the decision to redirect this money underscores the administration’s misplaced priorities," Ryan said.