Train manufacturer Talgo may leave Milwaukee’s north side by spring 2012 if Governor-elect Scott Walker follows his pledge to reject $810 million in federal stimulus money for high-speed rail in Wisconsin.
If the Spanish company does leave the state, it could possibly be taking Wisconsin jobs to Illinois.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn sent a letter to the company Wednesday in an attempt to lure the manufacturing plant south.
Quinn said in the letter to Talgo his administration “stands ready to do whatever it can to make Illinois your new Midwestern home.”
“We appreciate the offer from Illinois,” Talgo spokeswoman Nora Friend told the Associated Press. “We want to go to a state that appreciates our industry.”
New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo also wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood expressing interest in Wisconsin’s portion of the stimulus money if Walker ultimately refuses to use it for high-speed rail.
Despite the possibility of Talgo jobs leaving the state, Walker remains committed to following through on campaign promises to derail the train project in Wisconsin.
“Governor-elect Scott Walker is going to fulfill his campaign promise to stop the construction of the Madison-Milwaukee train line,” Walker spokesman John Hiller said in a statement.
Walker still plans to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin, Hiller said, even without the train.
Jay Heck, executive director for Common Cause in Wisconsin, said Walker has put himself in a tough spot.
“To risk losing all those jobs, it’s going to put him in a pretty serious hole,” Heck said. “On the other hand, he doesn’t want to be labeled a flip-flopper.”
Walker’s plans to redirect the $810 million towards roads and highways may also be falling on deaf ears in Washington.
According to Heck, Rep. Tom Petry, R-Wis., the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Lahood wants the money spent on rail travel.
“They’re going to get that line to the Twin Cities whether it goes through Wisconsin or not,” Heck said.
Heck added the decision to reject the stimulus only means the money would be spent elsewhere on rail projects.
Decisions over the use of the high-speed rail money will be momentous and should be made without partisan interests, Heck said.