Recently former State Senator Dan Innis wrote an op-ed in the Union Leader promoting the same old misleading rail propaganda we’ve been hearing from the lobbyists.
Dan is a former State Senator and is also connected to Peter T. Paul, a California billionaire who sent a flyer to every household in Bedford with the purpose of swaying a local town meeting election, on behalf of a local resident who remains unnamed in Paul’s PAC financial reports.
Innis is claiming this commuter rail proposal would be a boon to NH when everyone else knows it would be a boondoggle, just as Governor Sununu has stated in the past. But more than that, he has apparently misread some of the statistics cited in the study that was done a few years back.
According to transit engineer Dick Lemieux, “About those outrageous claims of economic growth and jobs… if the train could possibly muster 670,000 weekday riders, it would pay for itself. Rail fetishists, like this guy, have no concept of scale. IT’S 668,000 RIDERS PER YEAR, not 670,000 per weekday. To him I would say, you just exaggerated up by a factor of 365 to one.”
In a May 17, 2016 letter to the UL entitled “Railroad Voodoo”, Lemieux explained:
“Unable to make a convincing case for commuter rail based on transportation benefits, for more than a year, rail proponents have been wowing legislators with jaw dropping predictions of jobs and economic growth. As if it were possible to lose money on every passenger while creating jobs and economic profits out of the losses.”
It’s a safe bet that few legislators have any clue where the predictions came from.
They are the product of a computer model called “IMPLAN” that economist Jon Sanders has called the “lobbyists’ model of choice for impressing politicians.”
“Whenever someone wants to make preposterous claims about the benefits of his pet project, he’ll inevitably turn to IMPLAN,” says Matt Rognlie, another economist.
Models like IMPLAN can be tweaked for ulterior motive. With IMPLAN, the tweak of choice is the multiplier. The higher the multiplier (garbage in) the more jobs and benefits can be claimed (garbage out).
The rail study is silent about multipliers. That hasn’t stopped the rail fans who comprise the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, and too many politicians, candidates and newspaper editors, from latching on to preposterous predictions as if they are
The NHRTA is essentially a taxpayer-funded lobbyist for rail. As long as it exists, we will not see an end to such shenanigans.
Rather than double down on the bad rail investments of the past, the Senate should cut taxpayers’ losses on rail, then dissolve the NHRTA.”
Hundreds of us have sent petitions to the Governor’s office to have him veto SB 241. Hundreds more will continue.
If the Governor does not veto this ridiculousness, will this be the way he breaks his “no new income tax” promise to the people of NH?