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LaHood Revokes Wisconsin, Ohio High Speed Rail Money, Gives to Other States

Have I mentioned that Ray LaHood is my favorite Obama Administration cabinet member? He told Governor-elects in Ohio and Wisconsin that they could not take high-speed rail money and just channel it to different uses, and if they didn’t use it for its expressed purposes, they’d take it away and give it to states who want it. Ohio and Wisconsin, with two new teabag Governors coming in, held their ground, and DOT carried out the threat.

Ohio and Wisconsin’s loss of $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money for rail projects will be California, Florida and 11 other states’ gains, federal officials said on Thursday […]

Now both states, which have been hit hard by the economic downturn, are losing the money. The federal Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it was taking back the $810 million that had been awarded to Wisconsin to build a train line from Milwaukee to Madison, and the $385 million that was awarded to Ohio to build a train line linking Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The money will be redistributed to 12 other states, with the biggest winners being California and Florida, which are building high-speed trains.

“High-speed rail will modernize America’s valuable transportation network, while reinvigorating the manufacturing sector and putting people back to work in good-paying jobs,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement announcing the redistribution of the rail money. “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.”

You cannot play hardball with the opposition unless you’re willing to carry out your threats. LaHood, being a Republican, actually understands that.

California will get $624 million dollars out of this deal, giving the state almost $4 billion in the past year. Ohio and Wisconsin’s loss is California’s gain. What’s more, the Ohio and Wisconsin plans were for basically new train routes that could evolve into high speed rail. The California – and Florida – plans are for high-speed rail. Washington state, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont will also get some funds, but the bulk of it goes to California and Florida.

LaHood continues to work to get $271 million dollars back from Chris Christie in New Jersey for killing the Hudson River rail tunnel project. The government had already spent that much on the deal.

Note to the Administration: pay attention to the spine implant over at the Department of Transportation.

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David Dayen

David Dayen