May 28, 2020
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Transportation Committee Vice Chair Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) and Assembly Education Committee Vice Chair Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) have announced legislation to put the brakes on High-Speed Rail funding for two years. This will serve the dual purpose of freeing up over $3 billion to stave off cuts to education, while allowing the High-Speed Rail project to be reassessed in light of alternative emerging transportation technologies.
“This bill will spare our schools considerable pain,” Assemblyman Kiley said. “It also gives us an opportunity to reevaluate a project that has gone nowhere for the last decade, and shows no signs of going anywhere in the next decade.”
AB 3199 as amended would suspend the project’s 25 percent share of cap-and-trade revenues for two years and reallocate an existing $2.4 billion that has yet to be spent. These funds would be used to mitigate proposed cuts to K-12 education.
“We need to seriously reevaluate High Speed Rail funding, especially when this state is asking Californians to make real sacrifices,” Assemblyman Fong said. “If Governor Newsom is threatening cuts to education, healthcare programs, and diverting road funds to address our budget deficit, while at the same time $2.4 billion is sitting in an account for a boondoggle rail project, that is unacceptable.”
The bill also requires an independent assessment of whether emerging transportation technologies could better fulfill the objectives of high-speed rail. While the High-Speed Rail Authority faces harsh bipartisan criticism, other states and countries are planning for the transportation technologies of the 21st century. This includes adapting cities and roadways to autonomous vehicles and pursuing hyperloop as a cheaper, faster, safer alternative to high-speed rail.
“Beyond the unfathomable price tag, the biggest cost of this project is it has shackled our transportation planning to the technology of yesterday,” Kiley said. “California’s private sector is planning for the future, and it’s time for our government to start doing so as well.”