So-Called ‘Free Money’ for Rail Study Yanked From New Hampshire Transportation Plan

by Steve MacDonald

hundreddollarbills-money-cash-bloomberg-750xx1024-576-0-53In late April the NH Senate pulled a four million dollar rail study line-item out of the State’s ten-year transportation budget. The Senate passed the amended version, denying the choo-choo fetishists yet another expensive act of engineering voyeurism.

The advocates for waste, fraud, and abuse were not happy.

It’s “free money™,” you see. How could we possibly turn our backs on “free money™” when Manchester Ink Link reports that dumping another $4 million down this hole had wide bipartisan support.

“The initiative has had broad bipartisan support across the state, from the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Governor Chris Sununu,”

You mean wide support except for the committee vote to strip the funding out and the vote to pass the amended plan without it?

Wide must mean something else at the left-leaning news portal especially given that this Republican majority Senate isn’t exactly a conservative caucus. They have advanced some of the most reprehensible liberal priorities imaginable, but suddenly bring themselves to burn through $4 million on (yet) another rail study?

I’m honestly as shocked as anyone but in a good way, unlike the Rail expansion folk.

“This vote is deeply disappointing and it sends a negative message to businesses who are desperate to attract talented workers to fill thousands of high-paying jobs and young professionals the state seeks to recruit and retain,” said E.J. Powers, spokesman for NH Business for Rail Expansion. “This analysis, which would be funded by a federal grant at zero cost to New Hampshire taxpayers, would provide a blueprint for moving forward with rail.

We must not have any talented workers employed in high-paying jobs then. Oh, wait we do. New Hampshire has one of the highest average hourly rates of pay in the nation, a high standard of living, and the lowest rates of poverty. How in the name of “transportation boondoggles” did that happen without commuter rail?

And at zero cost to New Hampshire taxpayers? That’s wrong too.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “New Hampshire is a federal tax donor state” or something similar. It means we pay more in taxes to DC than we get back. My response is, why isn’t our Congressional Delegation doing more down there to make sure more of our money stays up here?

Because they are all Democrats. Not just Democrats but Democrats who had an excellent opportunity (recently) to support the idea of improving parity on this issue by voting for tax reform that would take less money out of New Hampshire. Reform that leaves more money in the pockets and pocketbooks of families and job creators.

But when given the rare opportunity to demonstrate faith and trust in local government and their constituents, they all vote no. They voted no, lied about the positive impact, and pilloried Republicans for letting people keep more of the money they legally earned.

They’d rather launder it through DC then claim that next time they’ll fight harder to get it back for opioid treatment and policing infrastructure or (yet) another rail study (because commuter rail might make it easier to get the heroin up here from Lawrence or Lowell).

Wow, this is fun.

Regardless of whose tax dollars were pillaged by the Feds, they came from somebody, either yesterday (or tomorrow, if you’d like to get into a debate about the national debt). I know that four million isn’t even worth searching the couch cushions when we talk about national spending priorities, but it’s a lot of money to everyone else. And if we’re dumping money down a hole why not the opioid crisis?

Nothing says virtue signaling like Democrats who created a crisis with bad cultural engineering priorities funding massive new bureaucracies to catalog and document how much they are willing to spend on the unpleasant side effects. But think about how great it will look in the press release. Democrat all gurl delegation sneaks another $4 million out of the “treasury” to fight government-caused crisis war on opioids in the granite state.”

If we spent it on a few feet of wall along the border, it would do more good, but partisan party politics prevent the All Gurl Delegation from supporting anything that would slow or stop the flow of drugs from Mexico.

Instead, we need to burn “free money™,” on another rail study. Money that New Hampshire, if it is left here instead of being dragged down to the DC laundromat, would probably spend on something else because not even the Democrats suggested wasting the “not free” money milked locally on another rail study.

What else could go wrong for railgressives?

The Nashua Telegraph’s report repeats most of the same numb falsehoods about how great commuter rail would be but adds a twist. They remind readers that Nashua already approved a deal for a private rail service from Nashua to Lowell, where folks could hop on the T.

The city has an agreement in place with Boston Surface Railroad, a private company the is exploring a commuter rail line that would connect Bedford, Nashua, and Lowell, Massachusetts. This could allow Nashua residents to travel to Lowell on the private line, and then take the MBTA service into Boston. This service would not be subsidized.

Typo’s in the original.

My investigation into the Boston Surface Railroad revealed that the privately funded company is a subsidy of a multinational conglomerate and that infrastructure improvements for their private train service would depend on their ability to get federal grants and loans.

More “free money™,” that’s not actually free.

Add to that this gem from NHPR after the Nashua Alderman approved the so-called ‘for profit’ rail service deal with Boston Surface Railroad.

“Nashua is not liable for any of the funding for the service, though it will assist Boston Surface in looking for grants and federal loans.”

So, the city government (paid for by taxpayers) is going to use time, equipment, and energy looking for federal money (paid for by taxpayers) to help facilitate a “for profit” rail service run by an arm of a multi-billion dollar international rail conglomerate.

Why?

If rail is the golden egg laid by the transportation infrastructure goose shouldn’t the billion dollar business be tossing up stations the way Dunkin Donuts opens coffee shops?

If it’s such a winner won’t these deep-pocketed capitalists see an opportunity to add to their fortune on not just the much-in-demand service (cough-cough) but the amenities at each stop, leases, even parking (cuz you have to drive or be driven to the station before you can catch the train.)

Nope. Gotta tap into all that “free money™” if this deal is ever going to leave the station.

There must be a reason for that.

I think the big massive super huge conglomerate is using the ‘for profit front’ (Boston Surface Railroad) to get taxpayer money to pay for improvements to existing rail that they will also (or already) use for their big massive super huge conglomerate freight rail business. Then, if or more likely when the for-profit rail plan collapses, they will be left with improved rail-lines for which they paid not one thin dime.

But you did.

And aside from any upfront federal grants, there could be at least $250,000 a year in “free money™” for this project, and upwards of another $10 million per year give or take, a pittance in the $4 billion federal transportation agencies toss out for people-moving pipe dreams like “for-profit” commuter rail.

All of which will create so many jobs and generate so much wealth that private investors have zero interest in any of it unless taxpayers hedge the bet. Money that isn’t free. Money that could be used for other things, among them the desires of the people who earned it in the first place.

Here’s an idea. If it’s such a big deal and so many people and businesses want it, why don’t they just crowdfund it?

Because no one wants to toss money down that hole unless it comes from someone else’s pocket.

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