Desperate For Cash
- An old California tradition. Politicians will "borrow" billions from anything not nailed down to fund boondoggle spending programs. Now Jerry Brown looks to raid "greenhouse emissions" fees to fund his toy train.
By Dan Walters
Jerry Brown may be getting desperate about keeping the state’s increasingly unpopular – not to mention financially and legally challenged – bullet train project alive.
Faced with a judge’s insistence that the project follow the law about having its financial ducks lined up, Gov. Brown is now poised to shift money from the state’s “cap-and-trade” fees on greenhouse-gas emissions into the bullet train.
Brown, it’s been reported in The Bee and elsewhere, will propose in his 2014-15 budget that a portion of the fees being extracted from California business be committed to the bullet train.
While creating the new revenue stream might – emphasis, might – help persuade the court that there is a legally sufficient financial plan for the initial bullet train segment from the San Joaquin Valley into Southern California, as the law requires, the legality of such a shift is itself legally suspect.
The cap-and-trade law says that proceeds are to be used specifically to lower California’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, says bullet train construction would actually increase emissions “for many years” and a decrease, if any, would not occur until decades later.
Brown’s ploy indicates that he and his handpicked High-Speed Rail Authority have no real answer to the judicial mandate that they follow the law voters enacted when they, by a very narrow margin, approved $9.95 billion in bullet train bonds in 2008.
The state cannot tap the bond money as long as there’s a legal cloud on the project and otherwise has only a few billion dollars from the federal government for laying a small section of San Joaquin Valley track.
For the full article Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee