SACRAMENTO - As the state prepares for another round of difficult budget cuts, and the Governor pleads for more taxes, the spending binge in the Capitol continues unabated. Yesterday, members of California's majority party voted down AB 1455, a bill authored by Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) to halt state debt funding for California's high-speed rail project.
"The people of this state are being fleeced and ignored. We have a broad based, statewide, bi-partisan group that wants to stop this runaway train before it breaks ground. The people were deceived and the more they learn about the project, the less they like. Unfortunately, we have $3.5 billion in fed funds that is the cocaine for the train, and special interests now feeding off the taxpayer's dime promoting and lobbying. The majority party is afraid to act so, the spending continues in spite of budget shortfalls, cuts and pleading from constituents," Assemblywoman Harkey said.
Statewide polling shows the voters would repeal the bond by nearly 2:1. The bill uses Article XVI of the State Constitution to halt remaining debt availability for the $9.95 billion bond approved by the voters in 2008.
Harkey continued, "This marks the third year we have promoted a solution, and every year our support grows. We have endorsements from counties, cities, numerous citizen organizations and Farm Bureau chapters across the state, a clear indication that many have soured on what is becoming another Solyndra on rails."
Years of negative reports from the State Auditor, Legislative Analyst and even a recent investigation opened up by the US Government Accountability Office has not deterred the rail authority in their efforts to tear apart communities, farms and businesses while spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a 100 mile piece of track. The Democrat majority US Senate as well as the Republicans in Congress have cut off funding for high-speed rail projects. California's project continues to remain unfunded, ridership numbers are inaccurate, and state taxpayers will be on the hook for an annual $700 million in debt service plus unknown millions in operating costs if the bond is fully funded.
Despite issuing a fourth revised business plan, the project continues to be grossly over budget, now at $91.5+ billion, from the original $33 billion estimate. The Assembly Committee on Transportation is set to hear the revised business plan next week.
"The more exposure the better, we have made a lot of progress and the money isn't out the door yet," Harkey concluded.