By Katy Grimes | CalWatchdog
SACRAMENTO – What a train wreck. Barreling down the tracks in one direction, on April 9 a congressional committee launched a probe California’s high-speed rail project over charges of conflicts of interest and questionable spending of federal dollars. Barreling head-on toward it from the other direction, on April 12 the California High-Speed Rail Authority voted to approve its own revised business plan.
The state action leaves only an up-or-down vote from the state Legislature to break ground on a project the CHSRA now pegs at costing $68.4 billion.
The project costs have varied from an original estimate of $33 billion, to an official high estimate of $98.5 billion, and back down to a dubious $68.4 billion. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office said that it is “highly uncertain if funding to complete the high-speed rail system will ever materialize,” and rail experts have estimated the project will cost more than $136 billion.
The next stop for the CHSRA is to convince the Legislature to approve the project in order to move full steam ahead. Right now, the rail authority and supportive Democrats are counting noses in the Legislature to determine where the needed votes will come from.
Reublicans want the plan demolished, and Democrats aren’t talking much at all.
However, Article XVl of the California Constitution authorizes the Legislature to either pull the plug on high-speed rail, or at the very least, reduce the amount of indebtedness, if no debt has been contracted.
There is still plenty of time to stop this runaway train.
What Voters Approved in 2008
California voters approved Proposition 1A in 2008, the “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.” Here are some details:
* $33.5 billion cost. They approved a total cost of $33.5 billion for a high-speed rail system. The $33.5 billion was to be made up of a combination of 1/3 federal funds, 1/3 state funds and 1/3 private funds. Importantly, the investment from California taxpayers was limited to a $9.95 billion bond.
Today, the costs have skyrocketed to $98.5 billion from $33.5 billion, reliance on federal funds has increased by more than six times the original cost and no private funders have materialized to invest in the project. Continue reading at CalWatchdog.