There has been an important ruling on a court case involving the construction of California’s budget-busting high speed train.

And provisions written into the ballot measure approved by voters when they agreed to the train may save them from its unintended consequences. A Sacramento judge ruled that the California High-Speed Rail Authority was violating the 2008 state law providing funds for the bullet-train project.

But what’s not yet appreciated is that the good news was generated by that rarest of Golden State phenomena: a well-crafted state initiative. Proposition 1A — the 2008 measure providing $9.95 billion in state bond funding for initial work on a much-costlier statewide bullet-train system — included several powerful protections for California taxpayers.

Two of those protections were cited by Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny in his decision. One held that construction could not begin on any segment until the state had reliably identified financing for the entire 300-mile initial operating segment, which is to link Merced and northern Los Angeles County. The second held that construction could not begin until all necessary environmental clearances had been obtained for the entire initial segment.

However, San Diego blogger Dean Riehm has been following the high speed shenanigans since the beginning, and is skeptical that the ruling offers any real relief from this fiscal fiasco.

..[The j]udge said he will leave it up to the lawmakers to figure their way out of this legal and financial conundrum and rail honcho Richard says this is all back on the judge. In the meantime, nothing to see here, all ahead, full, because…

Central Valley landowners and the Kings County Board of Supervisors argued in their 2011 lawsuit that the $68 billion high-speed rail plan did not meet the promises made to voters when they approved selling $10 billion in bonds for it.

However, the lawsuit was filed in 2011, before the authority revised its business plan to scale back the cost and revise the planned routes, and high-speed rail officials believe many of the arguments made in court no longer apply to the project.

What is meant by “revised its business plan to scale back the cost” is to eliminate the funding of the infrastructure required to power the rail system and to eliminate the funding for the actual choo-choos. No lie, gang. This is how you get a project that was advertised as costing in the $33-40 billion range when high-speed rail was put on the ballot back in 2008 to the current $68 price tag when estimates for a fully functioning rail system has been put in the $100-120 billion range….Of course lawsuits mean nothing when you just start making up stuff along the way.

Riehm is right to be concerned. It has been our experience that our state’s politicos are usually consistent about one thing only: Expanding the size of government on the backs of tax payers.  If there is a way to work around the judge’s ruling, they will find it.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.