The Rail Runner is insatiable! Like The Money Pit, it consumes ever-greater amounts of taxpayer money. The latest source it has latched onto is $643,000 in “stimulus” money. We’ve already raised the gross receipts tax 1/8th of a cent to pay for the train, but it still faces a $750,000 operating deficit above and beyond that tax hike — fare revenue only covers 13% of the train’s operating costs.
Richardson is more than happy to use this federal money to extend the train’s financial life for another year. After all, that gets him out of office in enough time to force the next Governor to deal with the train’s ongoing shortfalls. As Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham pointed out: “My concern with using the stimulus money is the fact that, if we’re covering recurring expenses, what are we going to do in the future? All we’re doing is pushing the problem forward. We really need to address the expenses now rather than later.”
I added on to Abraham’s point saying, Gov. Bill Richardson has made it clear he will use any funding source — including stimulus money — to keep the commuter line running, regardless of cost. It seems to be that whatever Rail Runner wants, Rail Runner gets. It boggles the mind that they think it’s stimulus activity.”
Of course, the problem with the stimulus in the first place is that it would inevitable that it would become a slush fund for politicians who want to disguise their irresponsible spending. Besides, as I’ve pointed out in the past, economic stimuli plans simply don’t work. Of course, politicians will always support such boondoggles because they are in their own interest.
Eventually New Mexicans will learn the true costs of the Rail Runner. Richardson, acting in his own self-interest will attempt to push that date back as far as possible.