Schwarzenegger wants rail bond put on hold

first_imgSACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking lawmakers to scrap a $9.95 billion high-speed rail bond measure already on the November ballot to clear the way for his massive, $222.6 billion public works program. “We could not afford the entire package of infrastructure (in the governor’s plan) if we did the $10 billion for high-speed rail,” state Finance Director Mike Genest said Friday. “We did not see it being affordable in a 10-year cycle.” He called high-speed rail “a visionary idea (that’s) kind of far in the future.” Democratic supporters of high-speed rail said they would try to put some funding for the project in whatever public works bond measure emerges from the Legislature. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, has a $12.8 billion bond bill that would remove the high-speed rail bond measure from the November ballot but also provide $1 billion that could be used to begin buying right-of-way for the trains. The Assembly approved a bill last year by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, that would move the bond measure to the November 2008 ballot, but that bill stalled in the Senate. Torrico said he supports high-speed rail despite his efforts to delay the bond vote. He said he will work “very diligently” to get high-speed rail money included in any public works bond package that lawmakers approve this year. “We’re talking about investing $222 billion in infrastructure. This is the best time to talk about including high-speed rail as part of that investment,” he said. Genest said the governor wasn’t proposing that lawmakers eliminate the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the nine-member board that’s overseeing planning for the system. Instead, he said the administration hopes the board can devise another way of paying for it. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The governor’s plan includes $68.8 billion in new bond measures to help pay for highway projects, flood control, transit, jails, prisons, new schools and courthouse improvements – but no money for the so-called bullet trains. The high-speed rail bond would provide $9 billion to help pay for a line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the first leg of a 700-mile system linking the state’s major cities with trains running at speeds of more than 200 mph. It also would provide $950 million for improvements to light rail and conventional inner-city passenger systems. Supporters tout high-speed rail as a much-needed alternative to crowded freeways and jammed airports as the state’s population increases over the next 20 years. But it’s had difficulty getting rolling. Lawmakers approved the $9.95 billion bond measure in 2002 and put it on the November 2004 ballot, then decided the state faced more pressing needs and bumped the bonds back to November 2006. last_img read more