Scott Walker,the Milwaukee County executive who was just elected Governor of Wisconsin, hasbeen fiercely criticized for his decisionto not support an expensive new passenger rail service between Milwaukee andMadison. Now, groups with a stake in rail line and its politics, such as unionsand environmentalists, are staging public ralliesin an effort to convince the Walker to change his mind. On Monday, alabor-backed rally took place at a train manufacturing plant in Milwaukee andat least six similar rallies are planned for tomorrow.
Train supportersclaim that they are protesting the loss of jobs while Walker says that thestate cannot afford it. Although the federal government has provided $810million in funds for the construction of the rail line, the state could be leftresponsible for millions of dollars annually in operational costs. Currently,the state is dealing with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent and faces abudget deficit of nearly $3 billion over the next two years.
But those whosupport the rail should know that Walker is serious about holding the line onspending. As Milwaukee’s CountyExecutive, he earned a reputation for combating overspending in the county’sbudgets. In fact, in each of his nine budget proposals, he kept the propertytax levy to the previous year’s level. Walker did this despite howls of protestfrom critics who said his budgets “cut to the bone” and deprived MilwaukeeCounty residents of important services such as transit and parks.
For the sake ofWisconsin’s taxpayers, let’s hope that Governor Walker stays true to hisreputation as a good steward of taxpayer money.