In Their Own Words: Barrett, Walker on High Speed Rail

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  • Gubernatorial Candidates Tom Barrett (D-Milwaukee), Scott Walker (R-Wauwatosa).

MILWAUKEE - Newsradio 620 WTMJ posed six questions to Democrat Tom Barrett and Republican Scott Walker.  We gave each candidate the questions in advance and asked them to formulate 60 second answers that include specifics we can track during their term in office.

Each weekday leading up to the election we'll play you each major gubernatorial candidate's answer to another question at 7:34 on Wisconsin's Morning News and 3:34 on the Greenhouse.

Click on the links below to read more from our "In Their Own Words" archive: 
Governor's Race: High Speed Rail | State Budget | Job Creation

U.S. Senator's Race: Earmarks | Social Security | Federal Debt

Question Three:

 Question posed to Democratic Candidate Tom Barrett:

Your opponents say there will be additional construction costs and an ongoing cost to taxpayers to operate a controversial high speed rail link between Milwaukee and Madison. Your opponents also question whether there will be much ridership. What will be the train's ongoing cost for Wisconsin taxpayers both state and local? Will there be additional costs above the $810 million already allocated to build the train? What kind of ridership do you expect the train will generate by the end of the term of Wisconsin's next governor? 

Transcript of response from Barrett:

Click here to listen to Barrett's response

"We had this type of debate when we started the Hiawatha several years ago, and what we've seen is an increase in ridership between Chicago and Milwaukee.  

"I think the same thing will occur with the ridership between Milwaukee and Madison, and bear in mind, this is really about Chicago and the Twin Cities, and the state of Wisconsin (is) the major beneficiary of a high speed rail line between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

"I do believe there will be economic growth, I do think it'll support the ridership, and I think it's important to note that Scott Walker could stop this train.  I think he could stop this train.  

"That would be, though, that this train and the $810 million would go to a state like Florida and the state would have to then pay back the federal government for any of the cost that this has extended already.  

"Do I think there will be cost overruns?  No, because I'll make sure there are not, just like I made sure there weren't when we had the rehabilitation of City Hall.

"I told my people that is going to come on time, on budget, and that happened.  

"I would do the same thing with high speed rail.  In terms of the ongoing costs, first I have to say I'm glad he's not when President Eisenhower (was) here because we wouldn't have the interstate system."

Question posed to Republican Candidate Scott Walker:

You've pledged to "stop this train." How will you stop it? By what date will it be dead? Will there be money already invested that taxpayers simply lose and how much? 

Transcript of response from Walker

Click here to listen to Walker's response

"The bottom line is the train that Jim Doyle and Tom Barrett want, that the Obama Administration is pushing,  is something we don't want and can't afford, $810 million in a so-called high speed train line between Milwaukee and Madison."  

"As the Journal Sentinel pointed out in it's fact checks of late, we can stop it.  Unlike what the politicians are saying, we can stop it, as money that still has to be let through contracts by the state of Wisconsin.

"And even by the Obama Administration's own numbers, it will cost us at least $7.5 million per year, if not more.

"That's money out of the state's transportation fund for a system that will provide, by their own numbers, a mere 55 permanent jobs.  

"To me, spending more than $14.5 million per job is not a good use of the taxpayer's money.  

"We can stop it by stopping the contracts.  In doing so, my next step would be to do what Tommy Thompson did in 1998 and that is go to our congressional delegation - lobby them to change those funds, so we can spend them to fix our crumbling roads and bridges right here in Wisconsin."