Friday, May 13, 2011

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High-speed rail: Pork for the Bay Area from the Democratic Party

...Up to this point, the LAO[Legislative Analyst's Office] finds this has been spent:

To date, HSRA has secured roughly $3.6 billion in federal funding for development of the project. Of that, roughly $3 billion is dedicated to the construction of the system; $400 million was given to the developers of the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center, one of the planned high-speed rail stations; and nearly $200 million will be used by HSRA for project-wide preliminary engineering and environmental clearance work.

So, basically, the only part that will be built is the pork for the Bay Area. That’s the home base of California’s four most powerful politicians: Gov. Jerry Brown (former Oakland mayor), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (formerly House Speaker) of San Francisco and U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both of Marin County. Once again, the Bay Area, California’s wealthiest, gets massive pork with the rest of California---and America---paying for it.

A Train Going Nowhere
There’s much more in the LAO’s report, which is worth reading in full at only 28 pages. But the above suffices to show that this is a train that never will be built.

After all, how will the Legislature get the $1 billion (at least) per year in finance costs---and hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs? Will it raise taxes? Or will it cut funding for education, police, fire, welfare, etc?

In the past two years, everybody in this state, including liberal Democrats, has realized that there are limits to what the state can spend. That’s why it was the liberal Democrats in the Legislature who voted for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cancel all the state’s redevelopment boondoggles, saving $1.7 billion. Those Democrats liked that redevelopment spending and programs, but chose to give priority to other programs.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Legislature so far have refused to end redevelopment, hypocritically calling for less spending while protecting this local pork. (Only the courageous Assemblyman Chris Norby of Fullerton voted to end redevelopment.)

But the point is that the high-speed rail project is even a bigger boondoggle than redevelopment. And it hardly has been started yet.

So what will happen is that some more hundreds of millions will dribble out for studies and staff salaries, and for Bay Area pork.

But nothing else will be done. In a couple of years, the whole train wreck of a project will be cancelled (emphasis added).

Thanks again to High-Speed Rail Talk for the link.

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