A new report from a conservative think tank, the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), makes a strong, pro-business case for why conservatives should support the Texas Bullet Train and other private high-speed railroads in Texas.
“It is private investment, not government spending that creates economic growth, new jobs, and new products and services for consumers,” IPI President Tom Giovanetti wrote. “Because it is privately financed, the Texas Central Rail project does all of that, and the alternative to the project is ironically more taxpayer financed transportation infrastructure.”
IPI is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank based in Irving, Texas. It was founded in 1987, to “research develop and promote innovative and non-partisan solutions to today’s public policy problems.” The report argues against current efforts in the Texas Legislature to kill Texas’ newest railroad through legislative action.
“A real conservative principle is that policy should be neutral—government shouldn’t favor one player, or business model, or technology over another,” Giovanetti wrote. “It’s the job of markets to determine winners and losers, not government favor. Government neutrality ensures a level playing field upon which private actors with private ideas and private capital can compete, with no pre-determined outcome. So when conservatives attempt to specifically kill high speed rail in Texas, as some are attempting to do in the Texas Legislature, they are actually violating, not asserting, conservative principles.”
The report says that much opposition to high-speed rail is misguided – the technology itself is not the problem.
“I suspect that conservatives feel that high speed rail is always a government boondoggle, because these proposed projects have typically been publically financed with taxpayer dollars and have had cost and ridership projections that would necessitate perpetual taxpayer subsidies,” Giovanetti wrote. “But in those cases, the problems were public finance and perpetual taxpayer subsidies, not high speed rail technology itself.”
Giovanetti concludes the report with a reminder that there are only so many ways to finance infrastructure, and only one clear winner for conservatives.
“There are only so many ways to pay for transportation infrastructure,” he wrote. “You can’t oppose both taxpayer financing and private financing. Those are the only two options, and given those options, conservatives should be enthusiastic promoters of private transportation infrastructure financing.”
The Texas Bullet Train has always enjoyed bipartisan support from all over the state. This report, and others like it, serve as a reminder that the Texas Bullet Train is an investor-led project guided by free-market principles.