The big news from California that Democrats are trying to promote is that there is over $6 billion in an unexpected budget surplus.

“We have to be on our guard. It’s not exciting, it’s not funding good and nice things, but it’s getting ready” for the next recession, [California Governor Jerry] Brown said.

But in the five months ahead of a budget revision in May, when the governor’s Finance Department will offer updated revenue and spending figures, Democrats in the state legislature are likely to offer their own ideas about how to spend the state’s $6.1 billion surplus, beyond the constitutionally mandated $1.5 billion contribution to the rainy day fund.

Perhaps our politicians may want to take a moment to thank President Trump, whose policies have helped grow an economy my state’s ruling class keeps trying to stifle. But, I digress.

And while the politicos in Sacramento bicker about how all the extra funds should be squandered, they should note that the money has already been spent . . . on the California high speed rail system, which has nearly tripled in cost estimates over initial projections.

Completion of California’s high-speed rail project has been pushed back four more years — into the 2030s — and the project’s costs are likely to shoot up to $77 billion, officials said Friday.

A revised business plan issued by the California High Speed Rail Authority said building the full San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bullet train line is expected to cost at least $63 billion, and $98 billion under a worst-case scenario. The middle-of-the-road estimate is $77 billion, according to the draft report, which will now undergo public comment and legislative scrutiny.

How the state will pay for the full project remains a critical question.

The bullet train’s most recent cost estimate was $64 billion, which was already double the original $32 billion price tag that was pitched to state voters when they authorized bond money for the project nearly a decade ago.

It appears that Democrat support is wavering for Brown’s legacy project.

The initial reaction to the business plan was less than enthusiastic, even from Democrats who have long backed it as a way to revolutionize transportation in the state while reducing emissions.

“At first glance, the High Speed Rail project is still over budget and the funding to complete the program hasn’t been identified,” said Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, which will hold an oversight hearing on the plan on April 2. “We still have no realistic way to pay for the project.”

Train supporters are pointing to the state’s cap & trade system to help fund the project.  The gas credit auction only brought in $1 billion last year, that leaves Sacramento having to figure out where the other $97 billions are coming from.

At this point, it appears that the only vehicle that will be using the new rails is the Karma Train.


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