High speed rail featured in Friday’s debate between the candidates for governor. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is not leveling with voters, when he tells them federal high-speed rail money can be diverted to other projects. “This money can be used for one thing, and one thing only. High speed rail. He likes to pretend it can be used for other things, but he knows better,” said Barrett.
Democrat Barrett also said he’d ensure there are no cost overruns on the Madison to Milwaukee link. Walker said cost overruns are likely, but stuck to his guns in arguing the money can be diverted. “We’ve done this once before,” said Walker, citing a 1990s effort by former governor Tommy Thompson to get money earmarked for light rail shifted to the Marquette Interchange. “We can, if we have the right leadership,” he said. Walker also argued the rail line will require an annual state subsidy of seven million dollars which won’t be justified since the project will create just 55 permanent jobs.