California’s bond dreams become High Speed fiscal nightmare
Californians have an addiction to bonds — and not the cool #007 kind, either.
For every taxpayer-protecting Proposition 13 ballot measure Californians approve, they then give thumbs-up to several bond measures for questionable projects. As a classic example for my fellow Americans wondering how California found its way to its own fiscal cliff, I offer you Proposition 1A, the bond measure for the bullet train.
In 2008, after millions of dollars in advertising, Californians were persuaded to pass Proposition 1A and provide $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the high speed bullet train, despite the fact was no hard evidence supporting any the claims made about ridership, pollution reduction, or job creation — and apparently forgetting the interest ($9.5 billion) costs of the bonds. Furthermore, the realities of construction have tripled the initial cost estimates and the first train won’t be running until 2033.
A San Diego writer for the SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, Dean Riehm, follows the unfolding fiscal fiasco closely. He noted when the California High-Speed Rail Authority named Jeff Morales as the Chief Executive Officer of the bullet train project: Morales has close ties to Sacramento politicos and worked for Parsons Brinckerhoff, the project’s largest contractor.
Does this all stink to high heaven or what? Massively over-budget, massively behind schedule and massively understaffed so they do the only thing they can do at this point: they bring in a politically-connected fixer from the project’s largest contractor to get this thing done by hook or by crook regardless of the shady appearances it bears.
Of course, they did. Of course, they did. And we never saw it coming. Shame on us.
At one point, train proponents touted a “cost reduction” to $68.4 billion from the total for the completed project, instead of the potential $98.5 billion projected. These numbers are still well above the estimate initially provided to the voters, which was advertised $33-$40 billion.
Riehm writes: And how are they achieving the savings? In part, by potentially violating terms of the project which stated there would be no train-switching between San Fran and Los Angeles.
It turns out that riders will have to change trains twice between the two cities. This is just one of the many discrepancies between what Californians thought they were getting in Proposition 1A and what actually is being implemented.
This saga would not be complete without the intervention of a judge. A lawsuit against the project is being brought by Central Valley Farmers. The farmers had hoped to stop construction while the legal cases were decided. However, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley recently denied that request, reasoning that construction is not expected to begin until after the merits of three lawsuits over high-speed rail plans are decided.
The other two cases are being brought by property owners and environmentalists. It seems that both California’s left and right agree: The $9.95 billion dollar bond dream of a “rocket” between Los Angeles and San Francisco has morphed into an epic financial, economic, and environmental nightmare.
California Tea Party groups will be working hard to remind our fellow citizens of the dangers of bond addiction the next time a state-level measure is proposed.
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If I were a CA resident still ( born there, lived there, escaped there ), I would propose changing the state’s flag. I would replace the bear for a lemming going over a Big Sur cliff.
And then I would say, let’s have a bond election to pay for it too, that way it would be sure to pass.
And then, the only way for the animal rights activists to save the lemming would be to hang the flag upside down.
All one can do is shake their head and mourn for our once great nation.
The first transcontinental railroad was started in 1862 and finished in 1869. The Bullet Train To Nowhere will take over three times as long to complete and will only service a small number of riders.
I still live in California and the damn train will run right through (but not stop) in my hometown.
reminds me of this
click the image, its safe.
“It turns out that riders will have to change trains twice between the two cities.”
Ah, but of COURSE…!!!
You fail to see the real purpose behind high-(HA!)-speed rail! Those are TWO more choke-points at which to run proles past TSA types.
You are NOT welcome to travel in the New America. Much less “free”.
That, and a couple of pols’ good buds own land that needed to have a train run through it so they could have it “condemned” for some obscene price.
Licensing fees from the concessionaires in the stations where you have to change trains. Increased union railroad jobs from having to handle the larger flow of people in those stations. Oh boy, this is a gold mine for somebody.
Say nothing of the fact it’s not even a bullet train or reaches LA.
I am glad I moved out of California long ago. What a waste of good real estate.
Expensive bullet trains are the future.
I, for one, cannot wait for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games.
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The government is enamored with the mega projects that cannot be completed either on budget or on time. The Big Dig in Boston started at $2.4 billion, and came in at around $24 billion. The large companies and contractors know that once they crack the funding faucet open, the original cheer leaders for the project will cash out, leaving the next round of elected officials to wring their hands and say how could this happen. There is no justification for this project at this time. Our government through the manipulation of ballot measures is working over time on digging the financial hole we are descending into wider and deeper.
And much like the High speed rail in the Hunger Games that took the “tributes” to their certain demise, our high speed rail will be the demise of our once Golden State!
Remember when Californians thumbed their noses at George W Bush and voted billions for embryonic stem cell research? How much interest are they paying for that dead end project each and every year?
I remember discussing the stem cell bond with a liberal and asking them why they’d want to spend $6B on that when their state was already deep in debt. They yelled back at me “It’s only $3B!!!” I then informed this incredibly intelligent, incredibly informed liberal that bonds are borrowed money, and interest has to be paid on them. The reaction was “Really??? Well…”, and then they justified it another way. Facts and figures mean nothing when ideology rules.
Having lived in cali for over a decade, my observation is that liberal californians (IOW, most of them) never met a bond they didn’t like.