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Governor Greenhouse

Politicians Threaten High Speed Rail Ballot Proposal

11:11 AM PDT on July 15, 2008

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

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

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