Milwaukee mayor questions state committee over rejection of train funding

WTMJ News Team & The Associated Press

Milwaukee mayor questions state committee over rejection of train funding

By WTMJ News Team & The Associated Press. CREATED Mar 14, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar 15, 2012

MILWAUKEE- The Legislature's budget committee has denied a request by state transportation officials to keep funding on track for a permanent train maintenance facility in Milwaukee.

The Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday denied the request on a party line vote.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that he will try and strike some sort of compromise with Talgo to keep around 60 jobs in Milwaukee. 

"We need a pragmatic approach to this problem that will allow us to move forward and have these jobs remain in Milwaukee," said Mayor Barrett.  "These are good family supporting jobs, and this action taken by the Joint Finance Committee today, really calls into question whether it is committed to creating jobs here in Wisconsin."

The state's Department of Transportation had requested $2.5 million in bonds to cover costs associated with the final design of a facility to service state-owned passenger rail cars by Spanish train manufacturer Talgo for use on the Hiawatha line that runs between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle signed a 2009 contract for the deal. It says the state would assume the cost of maintaining the equipment.

Republican lawmakers criticized the overall long-term costs involved with the deal. Democrats warned breaking the contract could trigger litigation.