Legislative analyst: 'Deny high-speed rail funding'
California legislators should deny Gov. Jerry Brown's requests for all but minimal funding for the California High-Speed Rail Authority in the current budget process, the Legislative Analyst's Office recommended Tuesday, April 17.
The nonpartisan analyst's office, which provides fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature, said the rail authority has failed to provide sufficient detail and justification for its plan to build a high-speed train system.
"Specifically, funding for the project remains highly speculative and important details have not been sorted out," Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said in a 12-page report.
In its most recent business plan, the rail authority projected the first phase of the project will cost $68 billion. However, the authority has secured only about $9 billion in voter-approved bond funds and $3.5 billion in federal funds.
Consistent with the new business plan, Brown's 2012-13 budget plan requests $5.9 billion to continue the project, consisting of $2.6 billion in state bond funds matched with $3.3 billion in federal funds to start construction in the Central Valley.
In addition, about $800 million is requested to improve existing passenger rail services and about $250 million to complete preliminary design work and environmental reviews for various sections of the project.
"In this brief report, we find that HSRA has not provided sufficient detail and justification to the Legislature regarding its plan to build a high-speed train system," the analyst said.
"We recommend the Legislature not approve the governor's various budget proposals to provide additional funding for the project. However, we do recommend that some minimal funding be provided to continue planning efforts that are currently underway."