HSR Is Good for the Economy – and Good for the Budget
Daniel Krause, executive director of Californians For High Speed Rail, has a great op-ed in the Ventura County Star today titled High speed rail will bolster economy, budget. It makes a series of excellent points as to why the legislature should fund the project:
Extreme austerity in Europe is proving to be a flawed strategy, plunging much of the continent back into deep recession. Cutting investments to critical infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail, here at home, will only make our budget problems worse. We need to shake ourselves out of the downward economic spiral of divestment and cutting by boldly moving forward with a project that will inject billions directly into our economy.
Because of the economic stimulus that the project will create, it will have significant benefits for the state budget:
The early investments in high-speed rail, both in the Central Valley and at the urban bookends, will pump more than $8 billion into California’s economy, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Over the next few years, at a time when we must kick our economy back into gear, the increased tax revenues generated from these jobs will more than offset debt servicing costs.
Some may argue that the HSR bond funds would come at the expense of other state budget priorities. That’s a right-wing argument, ignoring the economic and the budget benefits of the project for the state. Krause adds another reason why this would be misleading:
Additionally, the state plans to direct underutilized truck weight fees, which statutorily must be used for transportation projects, to pay the interest on HSR bonds. These small but extremely important details debunk the high-speed rail versus school kids myth.
That’s a key detail and one that the State Senate needs to understand as it votes on releasing the voter-approved bonds. The whole op-ed is worth reading and especially worth sharing as the all-important HSR vote looms on the days to come.