Jerry Brown on HSR: “Plant the Seeds for Future Growth”
Last week Governor Jerry Brown appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss the state budget deficit and the high speed rail project. Governor Brown defended the HSR project as “planting the seeds for future growth”:
As in 2008, there are those who believe that because of the state’s budget situation, high speed rail should be postponed or abandoned because that money should somehow be used for some other purpose. And I say “somehow” because under Prop 1A, bond money approved by voters for one purpose cannot be used for any other.
More to the point, we have now seen that austerity is a failure. Europe is turning against it. Governor Brown himself is coming under criticism for relying on too much on austerity in his current budget plans. It should be clear now that cutting projects in an effort to somehow revive the economy or balance a budget is as effective as cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Building high speed rail now means jobs will be created in California. Good jobs at good wages. It means an infusion of $3.5 billion in federal money into the state’s economy, which turns into wages and taxes and purchases at local businesses. In the short term that’s a boost to the state’s economy that vanishes if HSR isn’t funded now.
In the long term, HSR is essential to getting the state out of its present crisis. Oil dependence is one of the primary reasons the state is in recession. The price of oil, already high, shattered the housing market in 2006 and has been choking the economy ever since. Money that could go to other things is going to oil companies instead. To solve the state’s budget crisis and its economic woes over the long term requires getting the state off oil. High speed rail is part of that solution.
Since the summer of 2007 California has been trying to solve its budget crisis and its economic crisis through cuts. After five years, it’s obvious that isn’t working. It’s time for something else. It’s time to plant the seeds of future growth.