February 20th, 2012 12:30 pm | by WW Staff News | Posted In: Business

State Program That Subsidizes Union Pacific and Other For-Profit Rail Companies May Get Bigger

news1_unionpacific_3814ILLUSTRATION: Jonathan Hill
WW recently brought you the story of the railroad company—Union Pacific—that brings in billions of profits but still needs (according to the state of Oregon) millions in public subsidies.

In Kara Wilbeck's "Gravy Train," we learned how Union Pacific has availed itself of $24.7 million through ConnectOregon, a program funded through state lottery profits, to fix its rail lines through Oregon. Never mind the program was created by the Legislature in 2005 to target transportation projects where there wasn't the money or expertise available without the public paying the bills.

The 2011 Legislature agreed to fund ConnectOregon with another $40 million this year.

It turns out some lawmakers don't think that's enough.

House Bill 4028 would increase that to $50 million. The bill has received a thumbs up from the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee on Feb. 10.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Cooney says the department did not request additional funds for the program. "I don't know why they decided to do that," he says.
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