The media coverage of the 3C intrastate rail system has been downright neglectful.?
Today, the Dayton Daily News reports that the vote in front of the State Controlling Board is in jeopardy because no Republicans have expressed a willingness to support releasing funds for a study of the plan.? Not actually implementing the plan, mind you, but a feasibility study of the plan.? Why?? Because these legislators who have held no hearings on the topic have concluded that its not feasible, even though many of those politicians were more than perfectly willing to support the plan until this general election rolled around.
The federal government is willing to kick in $400 million to get Ohio’s inter-city passenger rail system to start.? However, Republicans are objecting because the plan will require a $12 million annual expense for the State to keep the service running.?
Some are calling that a subsidy.? However, if that were the case, that’s still a smaller subsidy than 100% subsidy we pay for roads, or the subsidy taxpayers pay for airports.
Republicans expect you to believe that the Ohio legislature cannot possibly find $12 million in Ohio’s $7.6 BILLION transportation budget.? No, you didn’t read that wrong.? I’m not talking $7.6 BILLION total state budget, that’s just what Ohio spends on transportation alone.? The passenger rail system is expected to cost a little less than .2% of the total state transportation budget.
And yet, the media has yet to report that amount in those terms.? Instead, they have accepted Republican claims that the money cannot be found at face value.
What nobody in the media has mentioned is that we spend more money each year:
- Installing and maintaining railroad crossings.
- Cleaning and maintaining roadside rest areas.
- Painting underpasses.
- the amount of state funding (Small Government Program) for infrastructure projects in villages with populations of less 5,000 people.
- Ohio will spend $94 MILLION more this year than last year in Highway Capital Improvement projects alone.
- Ohio will spend as much supporting the aviation industry (mostly small public airports that cater to twin to single engine prop planes.)
- Twice as much on other public transportation projects already.
- Ohio will spend 7.5 times of the amount to operate passenger rail in creating new roads this year.? Over 6 times that next fiscal year.
Therefore, it’s hard to believe that State legislators could not possibly find a way to adjust the State’s transportation budget to create a $12 million annual investment in passenger rail service.
I don’t think you’d find a single study that finds what Ohio spends on painting underpasses, or keeping rest stops clean, or even building new railroad crossings creates the over 10,000 new jobs (in the first two years) that the 3C rail project would do.
And that’s the other problem with the media coverage on 3C.? The media only discusses the costs, fails to put it in perspective, and then fails to tell the public what the benefit is.
When was the last time you read, watched, or heard a story about the 3C that even MENTIONED the notion that it would create jobs?? I can’t remember it.
Not surprising, Jon Husted is opposing the rail project.? However, he’s only doing it because he’s being challenged from his right flank by Sandy O’Brien.? I don’t think you could find a single conservative in Ohio who believes that without her primary challenge Jon Husted would support this project.
Husted’s employer, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, supports the 3C, as does the Montgomery County Commissioners, City of Dayton, the City of Riverside, the Wright-Patt AFB Museum, and other cities and organizations in Husted’s district.
The other problem with the media coverage is the utter lack of anyone pointing out Republicans hypocrisy in their criticism.? As I wrote back in January, the same Republicans, like Husted, making the most noise about the $17 million costs to the State to operate 3C are the same ones being utterly silent on how they’d pay for their income tax repeal.? (In fact, what also is almost never reported is that the federal government would actually pay 80% of the $17 million in the first three years.)
Jon Husted is a co-sponsor of State Rep. John Adams’ bill to repeal Ohio’s income tax over ten years.? The LSC predicts that Husted’s tax plan would cost $814 million in the first year alone (68 times the rail plan) and then $12 BILLION in the final year (that’s 100 times greater than the rail plan).? And yet, Husted hasn’t offered so much as a peep on how to pay for THAT.
Most of the experts agree that Ohio’s estimate of projected ridership is, if anything, too conservative based on case studies of other States that have implemented similar service first.
Those who balk at the price of 3C, but clamor for high-speed, ignore that no State has ever gone from no rail service to high-speed.? Also, the cost of implementing high-speed rail would be (by perhaps a factor of 100) more expensive since it would require the construction of an entire new and separate rail system first.
The 3C plan has its flaws, but it is the most economic way to speedily create a passenger rail system in Ohio that would put Ohio in line to eventually develop a ridership justifying a high-speed rail system.
Jon Husted is ignoring the wishes of his constituents simply so he can have some talking point with the Tea Party crowds he’s desperately trying to win over.