Jindal’s Not Alone: Guvs Who Shunned Stimulus Warm to High-Speed Rail

Think Progress took note yesterday of a change of heart from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who blasted the economic stimulus law for its $8 billion in "wasteful spending" on high-speed rail — only to later seek $300 million of that money for a rail link between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

mark_sanford_gi.jpgGov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) (Photo: Getty Images)

Yet Jindal’s not alone in his willingness to combine criticism of the stimulus with an open pursuit of government help with high-speed rail. Four of the six GOP governors who were aghast enough at the recovery law to consider rejecting part of their states’ shares are now in the hunt for federal aid for new rail lines.

Gov. Mark Sanford (SC) wrote in a March op-ed that "taking federal stimulus money will only postpone changes essential to South Carolina’s prosperity," but his administration was already in the thick of planning for a high-speed rail corridor that would ultimately extend from D.C. to Macon, Georgia.

"We absolutely must be planning ways to connect [the southeast] with our neighbors to the northeast in energy-responsible ways," South Carolina’s transportation secretary said after the release of a new high-speed rail study earlier this year.

Roy Tolson, rail program manager for the state DOT, said in an interview that the southeast corridor’s application for stimulus money was submitted by the Georgia DOT, on behalf of itself and both Carolinas.

Gov. Rick Perry (TX) turned down stimulus money for unemployment benefits in March, weeks after Houston’s mayor was warned by President Obama that the city might lose out on federal transit aid because of Perry’s move. The Texas DOT, however, has submitted 17 pre-applications for high-speed rail money that seek a total of $1.9 billion from the administration.

"As we look for more efficient ways to keep Texans moving, high-speed
rail is an important option, which is why I am supportive of … high-speed rail projects across Texas," the secession-minded Perry said in a statement last month.

Finally, Gov. Haley Barbour (MS) clashed with his state’s legislature over rejecting part of the stimulus after rapping the bill for "excess spending." Meanwhile, his administration is serving on the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission to help marshal support for a corridor that stretches aong the Gulf Coast.

Barbour also approved a bill passed in the spring by the Mississippi legislature that okays a $16 million bond offering, part of which will be available to help the state "obtain federal funding assistance" for high-speed rail.

  • Texas doesn’t want US stimulus money. Texas doesn’t want Washington taking 15.3% social security tax and up to 35% income tax from each pay check.
    Texas Secession is the answer. Larry Kilgore for Governor.

  • mSkehan

    The current crop of Republicans are foolish. An 8th grader can see how their actions make them all look like hypocrites.
    NO BAILOUTS, then “Gimmie the Money”
    HIGH MORRALs, then “Screw the nearest hooker, page, or whatever”
    NO NEW TAXES, then run up the federal deficit at record pace the last 8 years.

    If your a Republican (not many left), go sit in the corner and be quiet!

  • stanley kowalski

    Give the man a break. His idiotic “Happy Mardi Gras” speech was inauthentic and it showed in his delivery. this is real. He’s not brain-dead, so he has trouble fitting in with the national Republican party.

  • John Thacker

    “Yet Jindal’s not alone in his willingness to combine criticism of the stimulus with an open pursuit of government help with high-speed rail.”

    Well, duh. I’m also pretty sure that Democrats in Congress who voted against the Bush tax cuts didn’t voluntary mail extra money to the US Treasury either (and nor did voters who opposed them either.)

  • Clinton

    I’ll second John Thacker’s comments. Moreover, if you examine many of these cases, they involve linking cities in multiple states, which is by all means a federal matter (see interstate commerce clause in the constitution). Besides, why the childish behavior in calling these governors hypocrites? Even I, an arch-conservative, recognize the benefits of high-speed rail. I also know that it requires a HUGE initial investment — more than pretty much any state can afford. So it makes sense that they would apply for federal money. Instead of acting like children and calling hypocrite when you can, why don’t you take this opportunity to say, “YES, we agree! Now let’s work together.” I personally think Obama’s economic policies are ruining this country; however, many of his other decisions supporting Bush policies on the GWOT could be seen as hypocritical. Am I childishly yelling, “Hypocrite!” at him? No, I want this country to be safe and I’m saying, “I’m glad you changed your mind, good job.”

    Children.

  • Stanley Kowalski

    Well Clinton, I apologize. Jindal went back and cancelled the project after they criticized him on TV. How lame is that? From the looks of the local press in Louisiana they are madder than hornets about it.

    I don’t know what would be more offensive: Jindal’s starting proposition that Louisianans aren’t worth it, or rolling because some Yankee commentator called him out. Is Jindal the world’s dumbest Rhodes Scholar or what?

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