VICTORY! State Senate Approves High Speed Rail Funding
The vote just happened and we won – by a vote of 21-16, the high speed rail funds have been released. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign SB 1029 in the near future. Key “yes” votes came from Leland Yee, reportedly a “no” earlier, Noreen Evans, and from Gloria Negrete McLeod. Our thanks go out to all those State Senators (all Democrats) who voted yes to move California into a cleaner, more sustainable future.
Democratic “no” votes were the anti-HSR troika of Mark DeSaulnier, Joe Simitian, and Alan Lowenthal, joined in a shocking move by Fran Pavley. Pavley was the author of AB 32, the state’s global warming bill. We’ll analyze that later. Now is a time to thank everyone in Sacramento who helped get this done, the advocates who worked tirelessly for years to bring HSR to California, and everyone who made calls to Senators to get them to make the right choices.
We did it – again. The fight won’t end, of course. As we learned after November 2008 when Prop 1A was approved, the fight to build HSR will continue until the system is open to the public. The other side is relentless. So are we.
UPDATE: High speed rail supporters are properly celebrating tonight. Below are some statements about today’s vote. But first, a photo of Governor Jerry Brown signing the Senate’s vote card for California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richard:
Governor Jerry Brown’s statement:
“In 2008, California voters decided to create jobs and modernize our state’s rail transportation system with a major investment in high-speed rail and key local projects in Northern and Southern California. The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again.”
CHSRA board chairman Dan Richard:
“Today’s vote to commence high-speed rail construction, like all major public policy decisions, is the result of hard work and collaborative effort. Credit must go to Governor Brown whose courage and steadfast leadership has improved the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans and operations,” said California High-Speed Rail Authority Chair Dan Richard. “We also express deep gratitude to Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for passing this measure through their houses. The Legislature’s action sets in motion a Statewide Rail Modernization Plan for California. Not only will California be the first state in the nation to build a high-speed rail system to connect our urban centers, we will also modernize and improve rail systems at the local and regional level. This plan will improve mobility for commuters and travelers alike, reduce emissions, and put thousands of people to work while enhancing our economic competitiveness,” said Richard.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
“The State Senate joined the Assembly today by displaying much-needed political courage on high-speed rail. By releasing voter-approved bonds, the legislature rejected the voices of doom and decline that want to take California backward. Instead, today’s vote will lead to hundreds of thousands of quality jobs, an easing of traffic congestion and a cleaner environment.
“Today’s vote was a boost of confidence in the spirit of California, a spirit that built everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to the dams and aqueducts that bring our cities water. For California to be a world leader again, we must invest in our future. With this vote, we’re on the right track.”
Tonight is a night to celebrate. We’ll have further analysis of the next steps, and the many battles still to come, starting tomorrow.