Friday, January 15, 2010

MN Senate 31 Candidate Paul Ibisch Op Ed on Personal Rapid Transit in Winona

Paul Ibisch in the Winona Daily News:

The Winona Daily News editorial about the proposed Personal Rapid Transit brought to light many of its flaws
(Dec. 20).

In spite of the article, a candidate for public office endorsed the project as long as it is "not at the taxpayer's expense."
This statement is either naïve or disingenuous.

Taxpayers would carry much of the burden for the cost. If it were merely funded by private investors or academic centers, there would be little need to sell us on the idea.

Beware of slick promotions. Almost all projects of this kind have seen huge cost overruns and questionable ethics.

The system of 8.65 miles of track used in Morgantown W.Va., a city of about 20,000, cost $130 million in 1979. The initial trial of the SkyWeb Express by the University of Minnesota required $1 million donations by 68 individual investors in 2003.

More recent experiments such as those in Daventry, England, have proved very costly for the local government. The proposed costs for PRT seem suspect.

Winona has the manufacturing ability and the academic resources to take a leading role in "green" technology. There are new developments in many fields, and any one of them may provide the breakthrough which will transform transportation needs. Some environmentally friendly solutions are appealing but not practical, cost-efficient or wise. The implementation of PRT on a large scale is questionable because of the required new infrastructure.

The federal fund created with taxpayers' dollars for "job creation or retention" will likely be expended to promote election year causes. Ongoing federal or state funding will be limited by debt service for current and continued deficit spending. The only common-sense solution is to cut unnecessary programs and shrink state and federal programs.

Removing unnecessary mandates to business will improve broad-based and long-term employment prospects. Community investment at a time of economic downturn needs to focus on immediate infrastructure and support of current programs.
Ibisch is a candidate for the Minnesota Senate.

In a statement to this blog, the other GOP SD 31 candidate Jeremy Miller said this:

The State of Minnesota is facing a $1.203 billion dollar deficit for the current biennium and $5-6 billion for FY 2012-2013. Early estimates on the 2010 bonding bill are already upwards of $1 billion; this is before the 2010 session has even begun. The State of Minnesota has a serious crisis on our hands, and it must be dealt with in a fiscally responsible manner.

The PRT project is an innovative idea that could potentially work in Winona; however not at the taxpayer’s expense. I heard there are a few private investors interested in moving forward with the project, even if public funding falls through. I would support this endeavor. I am a strong advocate of private sector development/ investment, and I support tax incentives for private funding on any project that encourages investment and creates private jobs in Minnesota.

My stance on federal funding is the same.

I have also asked Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes for her position on the Winona Pod project.

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