Californians thought they’d get you to pay for their high speed rail, instead they got you to pay for their mass transit.
California’s high speed rail project linking Northern and Southern California is one of the most expensive public works projects in the nation. It’s become, in part, a mass transit project. Republicans have cut off federal funds which means California has to pay for it. They must sell bonds to pay for it but they’ve been stalled in court.
A March 4 ruling by Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny allowed the continuance of the lawsuit by Kings County and two residents affected by the project, John Tos and Aaron Fukuda. Both residents own property that would be taken to build the project.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, opponents who filed suit claimed the state failed to comply with the promises made to voters when they approved Proposition 1A in 2008. The judge sided with them.
The judge rescinded the rail authority’s funding plan, ordered it to get more environmental clearances and show how it will pay for the first 300 miles of work, which is estimated to cost about $31 billion.
On Monday, the office of California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, which represents the High-Speed Rail Authority, is expected to file a new appeal.
California built the part of the rail project that was easiest, cheapest, and had the least amount of obstacles, it was a portion of the track that went, literally, nowhere. It was a useless piece of track in of itself which was meant to get the project started come hell or high water. It was done this way so government officials could then say to voters that it couldn’t be stopped after spending so much money.
Train to nowhere
Republicans have blocked federal funding for what has become a wasteful, manipulative, and outrageously expensive project.
California’s high speed rail is politically correct and as such, there were no ecology studies needed. Environmentalists are also suing.
The rail received $3.3 billion federal tax dollars to start the project for “free.”
Some Californians seem to think they will never have to pay for it. They just borrow more money when they can’t afford their projects.
The money for the rail project was originally offered to California under the condition that Californians spend it right away. Governor Brown formed an “independent panel” to decide how to handle the situation.
The panel, “The California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group,” was supposed to rubber-stamp it. However, it was so bad, they voted against it, according to Reuters and the WSJ.
The reason they did is because:
- The total cost of the train project would be over 100 billion dollars.
- There was no guarantee that Washington would pay the balance.
- A poll showed that 59% of Californian’s would not vote for the bill knowing the facts as they stand today. California voters approved the project and bond measure in 2008 through a state-wide initiative known as Proposition 1A.
Obama gave California $1.8 billion from the 2009 stimulus in what is now a $68 billion project. The project was projected to be $98 billion until they decided to use current rails, but the problem with that is the rails only handle speeds up to 125 miles per hour – not very high speed.
According to sources at the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), nearly half of the the total infrastructure commitment is for upgrades to conventional transit/commuter rail services in LA and the Bay Area. The project has morphed into a statewide transportation program much of which is totally unrelated to the high-speed rail initiative approved by the voters in Proposition 1A.
California clearly can’t afford this project and they were counting on federal taxpayers to fund it.
California’s state and local governments owe more than $1 trillion dollars according to the latest study. The California Public Policy Center, a conservative policy think tank, recently issued a comprehensive report on state and local debt including unfunded liabilities for retiree pensions and health care.
Its total from official records is $648 billion.
It includes about $265 billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Those estimates assume that pension trust funds will earn more than 7 percent a year, which is unrealistically high. Lowering it to a more realistic percent, adds several hundred billion dollars to the debt total, raising it to or even above $1 trillion.
California borrows simply to operate. They have released at least 10,000 prisoners because they claim they can’t afford to maintain them. Several cities face bankruptcy.
Unions have nearly absolute power over the political process in California and the salaries and benefits they demand are putting California out of business. The average firefighter for instance makes over $200,000 a year. Overtime for civil service workers is highest in California.
It’s not just California.
Twice as many Americans work for the government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined according to a WSJ report. “Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing.” the WSJ reported.
We are takers not makers, the report added.
California needs to rid itself of the rail. This lawsuit could possibly do it for them. They might not be able to make their share of the rail payment in May putting a stop to the project.