Latest Republican Effort to Defund HSR Fails
Assembly Republicans keep trying to defund the California high speed rail project – and they keep failing:
The Assembly Transportation Committee turned down a bill by Assembly Member Jim Patterson to prohibit spending federal grant money on a high-speed train project until the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority has approved matching funds.
Patterson and his fellow Republicans on the committee were outvoted 8-4 on Monday afternoon. Several committee members were absent, but not enough to catch up to the “no” votes on Assembly Bill 1501. Patterson had urged the committee to allow the bill to move on to the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the state’s spending.
This is becoming an annual ritual for the Assembly – Republicans try to defund HSR and Democrats refuse. It’s a good sign that Assembly Democrats remain strongly supportive of the HSR project, and they have consistently been better on HSR than their Senate Democratic counterparts.
Speaking of Senate Democrats, Darrell Steinberg is sending some mixed messages on the project:
Will you and I be on the hook for the high cost of building California’s high speed rail project?
“No, the public’s not gonna be on the hook. We’re gonna take a fresh look at the high-speed rail,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said on the KFBK Morning News today when asked about the battle in the Assembly over paying for the project….
“The questions that are being asked are reasonable questions. Is there enough money to be able to assure that we can pay, for example, the next stage,” Steinberg said.
He says they will take a new look at the costs with an open mind.
I don’t think this necessarily means that Steinberg is interested in defunding or killing the project. A “fresh look” could just be the way they’re messaging the way they are dealing with the project so it doesn’t look like they’re blindly defensive. That said, I’d prefer to see some statements from Steinberg that also indicate the value of the project and support for the jobs and CO2 reductions it will bring.