At the height of the Obama Stimulus – that didn’t stimulate anything but public employee unions, the administration – in a fever of environmentalist spending, decided that the nation need high speed rail to save the environment, create jobs, and save the children. They were tossing around billions in stimulus money to buy off state Governors and the only hitch was that the states would have to fund the projects once the stimulus money ran out.
California’s Governor, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, jumped on the three billion offered by President Obama like a duck on a June bug. He couldn’t wait to tear up some of the most valuable farm land on earth and build a “bullet train”. Heck, most the farm land is lying fallow anyway because the environmental lobby got a two-inch fish that isn’t edible declared an endangered species and the state shut off most of the water for agriculture to the Central Valley.
The state held a bond issue election in 2010 to raise about $10 billion towards the cost of the project which was projected at a paltry $33 billion. So they were only $20 billion short. That’s chump change in Sacramento. The bond issue passed with flying colors thanks to the environmental lobby and the progressives in Hollywood and San Francisco who love high speed rail, not that they’d every give up their private jets and set foot on a rail car though.
Shortly after the bond issue passed, the cost was revised from $33 billion to $15 billion $96 billion and because the project was scheduled for completion over a decade or so, many thought a more reasonable number was in the range of $120 billion. Still, a multiple of four for a government construction project that will take decades is a pretty good estimate. Just look at ObamaCare.
The politicians in Sacramento actually took action over the $96/$120 billion estimate and pressured the commission in charge of the bullet train to “look again at the cost”. They did and it magically dropped to $68 billion.
You’d think everybody’d be happy. The state gets a bullet train, it’s going to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it’s going to be running through the Central Valley where Republican live not the most direct route down the coast where the Democrats live, it’s going to get lots of good press from the environmentalists, a ride will only cost a little more than flying on a commercial airline and it’ll only take twice as long. Oh, and it won’t run as often as the airlines. Isn’t that a win for everybody?
Apparently not. Some people who don’t care about the environment and think farm land should be used for, of all things, farming, got all in a huff. They went out and got some lawyers and sued the high speed rail commission. How dare they? It’s not like it’s the XL pipeline or something.
The lawsuit said that the project should not be allow to begin until the entire project is funded. There was some fear that the state would spend the $13 billion in federal and bond funds and then the money would either stop or the state would slap a $20 per pack tax on cigarettes and an addition $10 per gallon tax on gas to pay for it.
Turns out the case got heard by what must be THE most conservative judge in the state of California. Probably a Reagan appointee.
In August, Judge Kenny declined to invalidate a separate legislative appropriation for the project, but he left open the possibility that he could forbid the state from spending bond proceeds until the came up with a full funding plan. That is exactly what Judge Kenny did Monday.
California is still free to spend the $3 billion that Obama gave them on the project, but after that, the CHSRA will be broke.
I’d be shocked if they didn’t spend it, after all it’s “free” money from the federal government. But here’s the very best part…
It is unlikely California voters will approve more money for the project. A recent Los Angeles Times poll found that 52 percent of Californians now oppose Obama’s bullet train entirely.
Reality is a real bitch sometimes. Perhaps this project should be renamed ObamaTrain.