[By Keith Laing of The Hill]
The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department used California Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) embrace of a proposed high-speed railway in his state to draw a contrast with Republican governors in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey who have all given back transportation money to the Obama administration.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker all returned high-speed rail money after taking office in 2011, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shut down a proposed railway tunnel between his state and New York City.
AFL-CIO TTD President Edward Wytkind said in a blog post on the union’s website this week that Brown’s decision was a wiser path.
“At least one governor appreciates what transportation investments can do for his state,” Wytkind wrote.
The Republican governors argued at the time of their rejections that the railways would not generate enough ridership to sustain their operations once they were built with the money from the Obama administration.
But Wytkind said the rejections of transportation money from the Obama administration cost the Republican governors’ states 129,000 jobs.
“Apparently their knowledge of American history pales in comparison to Governor Brown’s, whose state will reap the benefits of a modernized rail transportation system: 600,000 jobs to build the system and 450,000 permanent jobs; reduced congestion and air pollution, and 13 million fewer barrels of foreign oil consumed annually,” he said.
“Landmark U.S. infrastructure achievements were built on visions ahead of their time, dating back to President Lincoln’s funding of the intercontinental railroad in the midst of the civil war,” Wytkind continued. “These things don’t just happen — they require political leaders in both parties who think about what their generation is going to leave for the next one. Right now this generation is leaving behind a crumbling transportation system.”
The California railway has received more than $3 billion from the Obama administration, a figure which includes money that was redirected to the state after the governors’ rejections in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.