"Think about how this will impact our grandkids."
This statement is often made in reference to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which has allocated $810 million dollars to the state of Wisconsin to convert and extend its Amtrak line to Chicago into a high-speed rail line, eventually connecting to Minneapolis.
As a young professional in southeastern Wisconsin and the leader of social networks representing thousands more like me, I strongly support accepting the federal funding and allocating the tiny fraction of the annual operating cost for the train line from our State budget, to keep Wisconsin relevant and connected to other major cities in the Midwest.
I'd like to tell my grandkids that we had the foresight to:
Other states are lining up at Wisconsin's borders to accept the $810 million in federal funding if we foolishly turn it away as a form of political posturing. The reality is this $810 million will not be reissued to taxpayers if we choose not to accept it, and it will not be converted to road funds. It will be invested in another state's economy to create jobs for its citizens and build its economy. It will connect another state with a growing national rail infrastructure and Wisconsin will be sitting on the outskirts, the big loser.
We can all agree that now, more than ever, is the time to get the most from our dollar. But it is too late to protest the stimulus bill, and it is foolish to lose out on millions of dollars as a symbolic gesture of this protest.
I believe we're doing our kids and grandkids a great disservice if we don't demonstrate that being fiscally prudent also means leveraging a small investment on the front end to maximize major financial return, in the form of $810 million in federal funds.
We can make a political statement and turn these funds away, but we'll only physically isolate our state from the growth and economic opportunity in other booming Midwestern states, which are watching Wisconsin and laughing all the way to the bank.
Steve Glynn is the founder of Spreenkler LLC in Milwaukee.