Breaking News: Governor Agrees to Sign High-Speed Rail Bill
As we continue to await word on whether we'll be able to vote on Metro's sales tax proposal, alternative transportation advocates did get some good news out of Sacramento earlier today. Governor Schwarzenegger, who famously declared he would veto all legislation that didn't have to do with the state budget, reversed course and said he would sign enabling legislation to placing a bonding measure to build a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The California High Speed Rail Authority estimates that it would take 2.5 hours for the train to travel between the two cities, meaning the average speed would be 140 miles per hour.
Schwarzenegger's office sent a letter to the legislature asking that four pieces of legislation be sent to the Governor's Office, be sent so he could sign them. These four bills include A.B. 3034, legislation that would replace the current ordinance with new language that includes oversight and a budget. Until this announcement, it seemed certain that the ballot would contain a previously approved bonding proposal with no oversight provisions making it less likely to receive statewide support. The California High Speed Rail blog jokes, that:
Nothing's certain until we see the printed ballots, but it does look like we're going to have to get used to "Yes on 1A." Thank god I didn't order those bumper stickers yet...
In what could be considered good news for supporters of Metro's plan, the Governor claims that regardless of the budget impact, Californians deserve the right to vote on ballot measures. The Sacramento Bee explains:
Schwarzenegger plans to sign the bill when it reaches his desk, according to his press secretary, Aaron McLear. The Assembly passed it earlier this month but withheld it due to the governor's threat.
In the letter, Schwarzenegger asked leaders to send him four proposals immediately so they can be placed on the November ballot. Besides high-speed rail, they include a water bond, a plan to expand the California Lottery, and a budget reform plan to strengthen the state's rainy-day fund. The latter two proposals are part of budget negotiations that remain unresolved 57 days into the current fiscal year.
"The governor believes Californians ought have the opportunity to vote on these four measures on the November ballot despite the fact that the Legislature is two months past their deadline in passing a budget," McLear said.