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In Washington, D.C.: Schwarzenegger talks up infrastructure, HSR

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  • 2/21 Modesto Bee
    Published Saturday, February 21, 2009, by the Modesto Bee Schwarzenegger criticizes U.S. approach to infrastructure By Rob Hotakainen McClatchy Newspapers
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2009
      Published Saturday, February 21, 2009, by the Modesto Bee

      Schwarzenegger criticizes U.S. approach to infrastructure

      By Rob Hotakainen
      McClatchy Newspapers

      California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called himself an
      "infrastructure fanatic" on Saturday, but he said U.S. politicians
      need to do a better job of marketing if they want to spend more on
      fixing the nation's roads and bridges.

      "The word infrastructure means nothing to the majority of people of
      America," Schwarzenegger said. "We have to come up with a sexier word
      than infrastructure."

      Taking the national stage in Washington just a day after signing off
      on California's state budget, the Republican governor criticized the
      federal government for spending too little on infrastructure projects
      and for not doing enough planning to see them through.

      "There's really no plan in Washington," he said.

      Schwarzenegger, appearing at the winter meetings of the National
      Governors Association, said the United States should follow the lead
      of nations such as France, Germany, Japan and Germany in developing
      high-speed rail systems. He said that would result in people taking
      fewer flights of 200 miles or less while creating less pollution at
      the same time.

      "I think it is important for us to recognize that our infrastructure
      in this country is like a developing country rather than a developed
      country because we've fallen behind," Schwarzenegger said. "One thing,
      for instance, is the rail system. When you think about it, our trains
      go the same speed today as they did a hundred years ago, so where's
      the progress?"

      Schwarzenegger offered California's approach as a way to build public
      support for infrastructure projects. The governor's $42 billion
      strategic growth plan, which was approved by voters in 2006, included
      money for levees, transit and transportation projects, classrooms and
      housing, among other things.

      The governor said his plan represented "a big, big step forward" for
      California and suggested it could serve as a national model.

      "The federal government has to obviously do the same thing,"
      Schwarzenegger said.

      The state's marketing was successful, the governor said, because
      state officials made it simple to understand. Rather than talking
      about infrastructure, they asked residents if they were angry about
      getting stuck in traffic every day and if they were tired of having
      their children in overcrowded classrooms.

      Schwarzenegger said the $787 economic stimulus package signed by
      President Barack Obama would benefit the state and create much-needed
      jobs. The White House is estimating that it could save or create
      nearly 400,000 jobs in the state in the next two years.

      "Is it perfect? No, but I think it's a terrific package," the
      governor said. He criticized it moments later, saying "the only
      disappointing part" was that it spent too little -- $115 billion --
      on infrastructure projects. "We all felt, as infrastructure
      fanatics, we hoped that we would get $300 billion or $400 billion."

      Later in the day, Schwarzenegger co-chaired a meeting with 11 other
      governors and Obama's top energy and environment officials to discuss
      a state-federal partnership on clean energy and climate change issues.
      And he promised to have "a close and lasting partnership" with the
      new administration on climate change issues.

      "California has been focusing on green jobs, alternative fuels,
      renewable energy, and reducing the urgent threat of global warming
      while at the same time benefiting our economy, and we hope that our
      efforts will now act as a model for change at the federal level,"
      Schwarzenegger said.

      The governor will be in Washington through Monday. He will appear on
      the Sunday morning talk shows, first on ABC's "This Week with George
      Stephanopoulos" and later on CNN. He'll attend a dinner with other
      governors at the White House Sunday night, where the entertainment
      will feature the band Earth, Wind and Fire. And on Monday, he's
      expected to meet with President Barack Obama and cabinet secretaries.
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