Crucial Legislative Votes on Thursday and Friday
The next two days will be critical for the survival of the California high speed rail project, currently under siege from Tea Party Democrats and Republicans who oppose economic growth and seek to destroy jobs in the state. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has announced that a Senate committee vote on the project will happen tomorrow and a floor vote will happen on Friday. Note that the Assembly’s support of the HSR project has never been in doubt.
Steinberg and Governor Jerry Brown have been working to round up votes to release the voter-approved bond money so that construction can begin and jobs can be created. The Sacramento Bee has details of the current proposal:
Draft bill language for initial funding of the project ties $5.8 billion for construction in the Central Valley – including $2.6 billion in rail bond funds and $3.2 billion from the federal government – to nearly $2 billion in funds to improve regional rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail….
Draft bill language would require the authority to outline financial risks of the project and produce a management plan “to ensure adequate oversight and management of contractors.” The bill would also require the authority to fill the positions of chief executive officer, risk manager, chief program manager and chief financial officer before awarding construction contracts.
The authority would be required within a year to provide an analysis of the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
This strikes me as a reasonable set of conditions. It should help sweeten the pot for key swing votes like Orange County Democrat Lou Correa, who sounds like he wants to vote yes:
Steinberg needs 21 “Yes” votes to get the high-speed rail appropriation out of the Senate, which means he could be looking to Orange County Sen. Lou Correa for help. Correa, Orange County’s only Democrat in the state Senate, said Tuesday that he doesn’t know how he is going to vote on the high-speed rail plan because he’s yet to see the actual legislative language. But he promised that he his vote would be based in large part on how many jobs it would create in California and Orange County.
“My vote will be contingent on the level of investment in Orange County,” Correa said….
Correa is looking to see what portion of the total investment will actually go towards Orange County projects.
“My goal throughout my legislative career has been to make sure Orange County taxpayers get their fair share,” he said.
Steinberg’s office has been engaged in a similar effort with key senators, circulating this document showing how HSR spending will affect certain important Senate districts.
I hope everyone has a restful 4th, because starting tomorrow, the pressure on the State Senate will have to be turned up as high as possible. Senators need to understand that California should move forward creating jobs in building badly needed sustainable infrastructure that addresses pollution and global warming, rather than follow the Tea Party down a foolish path of rejecting job growth, ignoring global warming, and killing rail projects. It’s no exaggeration to say that California’s future rides on the next two days. We cannot let up now. Tell your senators to vote for jobs, for the environment, and for high speed rail.