Jane Corwin was apparently for it before she was against it -- high-speed rail, that is.
The Buffalo News reported this morning that a pair of freshly minted Republican congressmen have come down hard on the idea of spending billions of dollars on a high-speed rail system connecting Buffalo and Albany (and passing through Genesee County).
Corwin, the GOP candidate to fill Chris Lee's vacated seat, said this:
"While I am in overall support of the concept of modernizing our passenger railways, with $1.5 trillion deficits we simply cannot afford to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on this project at this time," the assemblywoman from Clarence said. "Instead, I will fight for infrastructure projects that have an immediate and direct return on our economic bottom line."
Honestly, when I first read the Buffalo News story, I didn't read far enough down to see that both Corwin and her Democratic opponent Kathy Hochul had been asked by the Buffalo News for comment, so I e-mailed both campaigns seeking comment.
After I read the statement, I also did a little Google search and found the statement below on Corwin's official Assembly Web site:
A high-speed rail would make travel between upstate and downstate far more energy efficient and be a huge boom to economic development. Construction of the rail would create an estimated 12,000 jobs. By strengthening the connection between our smaller metropolitan areas and New York City, we could also reverse the upstate decline in population by making Western New York universities and colleges more attractive to downstate and out of state residents.
As part of the statement, Corwin did note that there was no guarantee New York would be granted federal funds for a high-speed rail project, and she asked constituents for their opinion and called the project, "worthy of further discussion and debate."
The headline on Corwin's two-year-old statement was, "High-Speed Rail Could Provide Economic Boom to Upstate NY."
After finding that statement, I sent a second e-mail to Corwin's campaign asking about this seeming contradiction and received this response from Communications Director Matthew Harakal:
As the statement we issued on Friday states, Jane is supportive of the concept of modernizing passenger rail, and that support was indicated in the newsletter from two years ago. But because Congress has failed to get spending, the debt and deficits under control, funding this is not practical at this time. Jane believes that we need to focus on getting our nation’s fiscal house in order before we invest in long-term spending such as this.
According to treasurydirect.gov, the national debt today is $14 trillion. In March 2009, it was $11 trillion.
Meanwhile, here's the statement we received from Hochul's campaign:
"A high speed rail in Upstate New York will reduce our dependence on oil, create thousands of much needed jobs right here in Western New York, and provide New Yorkers with a safe, efficient, and fast mode of transportation to travel the Empire Corridor,” said Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District. “While I support the idea conceptually, we are still analyzing what the fiscal impact will be on New York taxpayers."