Politicians Threaten High Speed Rail Ballot Proposal


High Speed Rail in Taiwan

What is it with the State Senate and not wanting to let voters have their say on transportation infrastructure?

The Sacramento Bee reports that Senators from both parties and Governor Schwarzenegger cannot reach accord on how best to conduct oversight of the  proposed project, and now the legislation needed to get the bond needed for the project on the fall ballot is in limbo.  The Bee reports that time is of the essence.

But the state Senate on Monday failed to take up the bill because
Republicans and Democrats could not agree on how to beef up the
oversight.

The deadline to change the bond language is midnight
tonight, according to the secretary of state’s office. The Senate is
not scheduled to meet today. The measure still could be changed using a
"supplemental ballot," which would cost more taxpayer money. Lawmakers
would have about a month to reach a deal.

GOP opposition to the
bill was led by state Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield. He wants to
abolish the High Speed Rail Authority and consolidate oversight of all
state rail projects in a newly created department that would have
greater oversight by the Governor’s Office.

"The High Speed Rail
Authority as it currently exists has squandered $58 million so far and
has not a thing to show for it," Ashburn said.

If no changes are
made, Ashburn said he would try to delay the bond measure, which
already has been pushed off the ballot twice, in 2004 and 2006.

Far be it from me to disagree with an elected representative of the people, but the time for word smithing is past.  As the midnight deadline approaches, the Senate is again dithering while a needed regional project sits on the drawing board.  Anyone surprised by the most recent State Senate Stall isn’t paying close attention.  Officials in Sacramento have repeatedly show scorn for alternative transportation, be it the continual robbing of "dedicated transportation taxes" or using parochial concerns to threaten this fall’s proposed sales tax ballot measure, and the voter’s right to decide transportation issues for themselves.

Photo: Jiadol/Flickr

  • Hmm, Bakersfield? I wonder what Ashburn’s concerns are about the authority that would make him want more control in the governor’s hands.

    Isn’t Bakersfield getting a high speed rail station? What is this guy’s problem?

  • Gary K.

    Oh noes!! America is already decades behind other developed nations in speedy and efficient rail systems. If this project gets derailed before voters even get a chance to look at it again, there is little hope it will ever happen. The longer this is put off the more difficult it will be to secure the real estate necessary to lay down the railing.

  • The Republicans (and many Democrats) still shill for oil companies. They will do anything to ensure there is no viable alternative.

  • Ashburn is a jhonny come lately (seemingly w/a loud mouth and not much knowledge) who seems out of step with the bulk of central valley officials who have been boosters of the bullet train for years. Hopefully a reasonable compromise will be found. Another delay of the vote ISN’T an option–either the project needs to go foward or it is time to strike the tent.

  • I’m about ready to go get a pick axe and start digging the tunnels myself. This thing was needed 20 years ago. It’s shameful that we can’t even get it on the ballot.

  • Naughty NIMBY

    Who cares whether there’s oversight? Who needs accurate numbers on a business plan?
    Who wants accountability; that’s for wimps. Who really cares how much it will cost? It’s OPM, other people’s money. Bond issues don’t cost us anything. Just start building the train. After all, it will solve all our problems.

  • Eliot

    Thanks. Really happy to see coverage of High Speed Rail on Streetsblog.

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