Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at his election night victory party on Nov. 4. Walker took his oath Monday. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Governors’ inaugural addresses are usually delivered in broad thematic strokes, not etched in painstaking detail.
But in the inaugural speeches delivered on Monday we saw references to infrastructure that are worth noting:
- Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California, starting his fourth term, gave a plug early in his inaugural address for the state’s high-speed rail project.
Brown, along with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, will be at the train’s formal ground-breaking ceremony in Fresno Tuesday.
During last year’s campaign, Brown’s Republican opponent Neel Kashkari derided the high-speed train as “the crazy train” which he said was “not only a waste of money, it is a great example–it is a symbol–of Sacramento having the wrong priorities.”
That didn’t seem to help Kashkari, who won only 40 percent of the vote.
Brown said in his address Monday that the state is grappling with its water supply infrastructure by issuing bonds.
But “equally important is having the roads, highways and bridges in good enough shape to get people and commerce to where they need to go. It is estimated that our state has accumulated $59 billion in needed upkeep and maintenance.” He told the legislature “we must do something about it.”
- In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker delivered his second inaugural, pledging to “build the needed infrastructure to support a thriving economy. A transportation system to assist major industries, like manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, and tourism is a key part of this infrastructure.”
In November, Walker’s transportation secretary proposed $750 million in taxes and fees to pay for highways – including a five cent per gallon increase in the state’s 32.9 cents per gallon gasoline tax.
Walker hasn’t revealed if he’ll include that idea in his budget proposal.
He said last week that raising the gas tax would be a “hard pill to swallow” and asked “is there enough elsewhere in the budget, in terms of property and income taxes being reduced, that could potentially offset that?”
- Finally in the state with the smallest population but with by far the largest coal output, Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead said in his inaugural Monday that “We will continue to expand ports, increase international trade, including coal exports, [and] invest in our communities and in our infrastructure….”
Last month Mead last month filed a petition to take part in administrative hearings in Oregon to try to reverse a decision by the state’s Department of Land that blocked a coal terminal on the Columbia River.
The proposed project would bring up to 8.8 million tons of coal a year by train from Montana and Wyoming to Boardman, Ore. From there it would be shipped on barges downstream for export to China and other Asian markets.
Mead said last month Oregon’s decision would cost his state up to $30 million a year in foregone coal tax revenues. He is also battling the state of Washington over a proposed coal terminal there.