With access to federal funding temporarily blocked and absolutely zero private investment seen for funding of California’s high-speed rail project, what’s the state’s governor to do? Raid funds from other state programs, that’s what.
From Fox News:
California Gov. Jerry Brown is scrambling to keep a pricey high-speed train project from being derailed by raiding millions of dollars from the state's cap-and-trade program -- in what critics are calling a "desperate" ploy to save the beleaguered plan.
The state's cap-and-trade program puts a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, but lets companies buy "allowances" to pollute more. In it, the Golden State governor sees a funding source that could help resurrect one of the state's most ambitious, and controversial, projects -- a $68 billion, 500-mile rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
"California is still the generator of dreams and great initiatives," Brown told reporters, in calling for $250 million to be allocated toward the project. "And I think high-speed rail is worthy of this state."
And the good governor is doing his best to prove that California is still the generator of massive cockamamie unneeded public make-work projects.
Republicans have asserted that this ploy is just further evidence of the financial insolvency of the project as they have done for years. But now, even the environmental left is getting in on the criticism claiming that raiding the cap-and-trade fund violates the principle of the program.
Backers of the high-speed choo-choos counter that by saying that in the long term the project will be an environmental benefit. The carbon footprint required to build the largest public works project in the history of this nation makes this a dubious assertion at best.
And as Moonbeam must convince an increasingly skeptical, albeit Democratic-dominated legislature, to raid the cap-and-trade fund, he may be facing a ballot-box challenge of the same variety that breathed life into high-speed choo-choos back in 2008.
As the governor tries to sway the legislature on the merits of his plan, he faces another challenge from Gorell, who is trying to get a measure on the November ballot that would ask voters to reject further bond sales for the high-speed rail.
Before he can get the measure on the ballot, though, Gorell first must collect 504,760 signatures via petition. Gorell's bill is similar to measures introduced in 2012 by Rep. George Radanovich and then-state Sen. Doug La Malfa. Both of their measures failed to qualify.
Mid-term elections were made for low-turnout activist-oriented ballot initiative results. The challenge will be getting the signatures as we are confident that the voters who will turn out in November, from across the political spectrum, will be aware of what a turkey this project is and will check the box accordingly.