GOP vs. bullet train

by John Seiler | February 9, 2014 1:46 am

Republicans in California no longer have much influence. But they still can exercise the bully pulpit.

They did so last week, calling to put the bullet train before voters again. According to Capitol Weekly[1]:

California Republicans, long opposed to the $68 billion high-speed rail plan backed by Gov. Brown, say it’s time to dump the bullet train and spend money instead on critical transportation infrastructure.

“I think people are tired of the train and tired of waiting for the train,” Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway of Tulare told reporters. “They’re standing at the train stop and the train is not coming.”

Republicans said California has some $296 billion in unmet infrastructure needs, and contended their proposal would grow the state’s economy by up to $140 billion.

But before that can happen, they added, voters must first recast their votes on the high-speed rail project they approved in 2008.

That seems unlikely to happen. There’s no reason why Democratic leaders in the Legislature would want to buck Gov. Jerry Brown on his pet project, on which he thinks he’ll build a legacy to surpass that of his father, Gov. Pat Brown, who built waterways, freeways, universities and K-12 schools.

The fact is, though, that aside from the $9.9 billion for the bond and the $3.5 billion President Obama shoveled out for this supposedly “shovel ready” project, nothing will be spent on the high-speed choo-choo. Voters aren’t going to approve any more. The teachers’ unions will insist that any extra future revenues go to schools, not the train. And the U.S. House of Representatives this November likely will see increased control by anti-train Republicans.

Any money saved somewhere also is unlikely to go to the state’s infrastructure needs, as Republicans are urging. Even if some infrastructure money is spent, it will go toward diamond lanes, renewable energy research and non-high speed mass transit, not to building more roads, dams and reservoirs.

State policy from AB 32[2] and SB 375 [3]is to squeeze people out of their cars and suburban homes into mass transit and high-rise buildings. There’s no chance these bills will be repealed.

Those who wish to live in suburban homes to raise their families, with rapid commutes to work on efficient freeways, will have to find it somewhere else.

  1. Capitol Weekly:
  2. AB 32:
  3. SB 375 :

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