Non-Partisan Analyst Exposes California High Speed Train’s Flawed Finances

     As often happens when pipe-dreams collide with reality, the California High Speed Train project has just experienced its second major set-back in just the last month. After cost projections for the train-to-nowhere were doubled just a few weeks ago, a new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that the high-speed rail plan “does not comply with key provisions of a ballot measure that voters approved,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The audit found that high speed rail officials must “must complete an environmental review and identify a corridor, a usable segment, all sources of committed funds and a schedule for the receipt of financing,” before any of the $9 billion that voters approved in 2008 can be requested, the Times reported.

Of course, none of these major failures were among the selling points when this boondoggle was pitched to voters three years ago. Similarly, no such prognostications of rapidly inflating costs and rapidly deflating benefits are being pitched with a similar ballot box boondoggle, the so-called California Cancer Research Act. This project, funded by a nearly $1 billion annual tax hike, duplicates existing programs, but still adds a brand new $16 million bureaucracy to California’s already bloated public sector. What’s worse is that this project’s spending continues year after year, regardless of whether the state can afford it or not.

     At a time when California is facing record level deficits, doubling down on the out-of-control spending that drove the state into the ground is surely not the way to go. Like working families across the nation, California bureaucrats should learn to live within their means.


Voters beware the Salesmen who come with hat in hand, pitching shiny or miraculous services and benefits for a bargain bottom price and the promise of a profit–Your Wallets and blank checks are their target.

With a ballooning price tag and doubts about federal funding, it is increasingly obvious that voters were sold a bill of goods by the backers of California’s high-speed train to nowhere… 

“More grim news on $99 billion high-speed rail plan, as showdown looms”San Jose Mercury News

  “…the price tag for this risky transit gamble is now nearly $100 billion—more than twice the original estimate,”

George Runner, a member of California’s Board of Equalization and a former state Senator, in a post on an influential California political blog on Tuesday–“The new number is greater than California’s entire annual state budget. To fund the entire project today, every Californian, including men, women and children, would need to write a check for more than $2500.”  

When backers of high speed rail pitched the idea to California voters in 2008, they told Californians this project would pay for itself and even turn a profit in a few years. Today, three years and $60+ billion in higher cost projections later, it’s pretty clear backers weren’t being straight with California voters.

A similar dynamic exists with another measure, this one on the June 2012 ballot.

The so called California Cancer Research Act would increase taxes by nearly a billion dollars on Californians, to pay for another new government spending program and brand new bureaucracy to oversee it.

The CCRA’s backers – including one career politician who is behind the measure – are making a bunch of promises about the measure’s benefits.

Sound familiar?

Whether it’s high-speed trains or the latest tax and spend program with big-time benefits promised, Californians should have learned one thing about ballot measures by now: the promises are almost always too good to be true.

Reckless Spending By Thomas Sowell (Looking beyond our fantasies about High Speed Rail)

Nothing more clearly illustrates the utter irresponsibility of Barack Obama than his advocacy of “high-speed rail.” The man is not stupid. He knows how to use words that will sound wonderful to people who do not bother to stop and think.

High-speed rail may be feasible in parts of Europe or Japan, where the population density is much higher than in the United States. But, without enough people packed into a given space, there will never be enough riders to repay the high cost of building and maintaining a high-speed rail system.

Building a high-speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco may sound great to people who don’t give it any serious thought. But we are a more spread-out country than England, France or Japan. The distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco is greater than the distance from London to Paris– by more than 100 miles.

Click here to read more.

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Calif. rail project is high-speed pork

By Robert J. Samuelson
Monday, November 1, 2010

Somehow, it’s become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help “save the planet.” They won’t. They’re a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs – schools, defense, research. Click here to read more.

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Sat Jan 2, 2010 CRN Digital Talk Show: Guest, Taxpayer’s Hero Richard Rider

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