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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Congress Presses to Whack Fast-Train Funds

Conservative Republicans in Congress are continuing efforts to derail funds for California's planned high-speed rail network. At issue, according to today's Los Angeles Times, is $3.3 billion in current federal allocations already ticketed for the Golden State. The aim of the GOP representatives is to either kill off the money altogether or have it shifted to the Amtrak corridor on the East Coast. The latter option would be a fallback position to lure aboard members of the Senate who may be wavering on the California project which has escalated in cost three-fold to about $100 billion since voters approved Proposition 1A in November 2008. That measure authorizes the state to utilize just under $10 billion in matching funds; about $3 billion of that total, along with the federal $3.3 billion, would be used to get the high-speed train plan up and running with an initial phase, now set for the Central Valley. Conservative congressmen (and congresswomen) are highly dubious of the project and want it ended now before it can even start next year. Their view is that it's a guaranteed financial sinkhole. While the House may well vote to de-fund the California construction, the Senate would be much more of a challenge for the naysayers. Furthermore, President Obama, whether oblivious to the dire fiscal implications or simply hell-bent on forging ahead with fast-train work no matter how outrageously expensive it would be, remains a strong advocate of high-speed rail.

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