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By James B. Nelson December 29, 2010

Train money distributed to other states, even before Walker took office

No issue stirred greater attention in the weeks after the Nov. 2, 2010 election than the future of the proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail line.

Early in the year, Wisconsin had been awarded $810 million in federal stimulus funding for the project, part of an envisioned network connecting Midwestern cities. But as a candidate for governor, Republican Scott Walker vowed to kill the train, saying the state could not afford its share of the annual operating cost.

At one point, Walker launched a web site -- that included an open letter to President Barack Obama: "I am drawing a line in the sand Mr. President: No matter how much money you and Governor Doyle try to spend before the end of the year, I will put a stop to this boondoggle the day I take office.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood didn"t wait for Walker"s Jan. 3, 2011 swearing in.

He announced Dec. 9, 2010 virtually all of the $810 million would be sent to states where train projects were welcome.

In his open letter to Obama, Walker the candidate added: "If your administration is truly interested in helping Wisconsin build the transportation infrastructure it needs and desires, you should allow us to use this money for roads and bridges instead.”

That suggestion went nowhere.

In the end, Walker declared the death of the train as a long-term victory for taxpayers. Rail supporters decried it as a short-sighted decision that would cost the state jobs.

Whatever your position, this much is clear: We are rating it as a Promise Kept.

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