LOS ANGELES — The battle for California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s “bullet train” is heating up. Brown, undeterred by the possibility of the U.S. House of Representatives blocking federal funding for Brown’s $68 billion bullet train, told the Wall Street Journal last week that he’s still determined to see the train built.
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (R-Calif.), who hails from Bakersfield, through which the train would travel, said on Sunday that the plan for the train is “a far cry” since it was approved by voters in 2008. He added, according to the Journal, “I will do all that I can to ensure not one dollar of federal funding goes to boondoggles like California’s high-speed rail. The government’s handling of hard earned taxpayer dollars must be based on merit and facts, not upon a desired legacy.”
Brown had told the Journal, “It’s well within the capability of the state of California. We would like more federal help. We get federal help for our roads and our bridges…but right now the Republicans, under Mr. McCarthy, have decided that it’s better to treat high-speed rail as a political football, than as a great civic opportunity.”
Brown had brokered a deal with California legislators in June to siphon money from the state’s cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions to fund the train. That deal entailed using $250 million from a cap-and-trade fund for the first year, and in the years after that channeling one-quarter of the fund’s revenue toward the train.
Last week, an appellate court ruled that Brown could use voter-approved state bonds for his train. The state had been prevented from selling $8.6 billion in state bonds for the train before the decision.
The appellate court also dealt train opponents a blow last week in a separate case in which it ruled against a farmer, a landowner and Kings County, which were asserting that the state had flouted the 2008 voter initiative when it tried to sell the bonds.
Stuart Flashman, representing those arguing against the state, said the court’s ruling had dangerous ripple effects because it overturned voter’s decisions. He said, “It’s a terrible decision. The message it sends is that you can’t trust anything on a ballot measure.”
There is another challenge to the train pending in court: a suit alleges that the train will not have the capacity to deliver passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco speedily, and argues that the train will not be able to manage without a subsidy.