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Harkey Responds to Cap and Trade Funding Proposal

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) offers her take on Gov. Brown's press conference on Sunday regarding the $1 billion high-speed rail project.

Speaking to media in Los Angeles on Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters that California’s high-speed rail project would be funded with $1 billion from the state cap and trade program which is not yet in operation. Brown also stated that the $100 billion cost estimate for the project was “way off.”

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) who represents the 73rd Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Oceanside, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano responded to this Monday via a press release:

“Last week, the State Auditor issued a timely warning that California’s high-speed experiment had become an increasingly risky proposition. Based on the Draft Business Plan over $80 billion must still be found in order to complete Phase I – beginning in the Central Valley with no proven ridership.  Unless the final Business Plan is greatly altered, such as changing the start point, and dramatically reducing the scope of the project, the construction funding situation remains precarious, and not a risk the state needs to take, now or ever.

“The state’s cap and trade program is not yet in operation and revenue estimates of $1 billion per year are unreliable and unsubstantiated. Relying on projected revenues that fall short is the key reason why our state deficit continues to explode year after year.  To rush this project forward, just using up the $3.5 billion of Federal funds, with the hope of an additional funding mechanism based on guess work is irresponsible. The federal government provided 3% but will not be as eager to help fund the additional 97 percent.”

She further added that funding from the voter approved state bond is subject to strict criteria, that to date the planners have not been able to meet.

"The California High Speed Rail Authority itself pegs Phase I construction at $98.5 billion or more plus ‘operating costs’ and the voters were promised there would be no state subsidies.  So, even if the train could inch along for 100 years on ‘cap and tax’ revenue for construction, who will pay the operating costs?" she said.

Assemblywoman Harkey recently introduceda bill to halt state debt funding for the high speed rail project. The bill, labeled “The Lemon Law,” seeks to address the massive cost overruns the project has incurred and to cut off spending before taxpayers are saddled with further debt.

“Californian’s have indicated that they no longer have confidence in this high stakes gamble with their tax dollars. But there is a better way, and the Governor can take the necessary step to ensure that existing funds are used to fund badly needed local infrastructure projects. I look forward to working with him to achieve this goal.” 

To date, many have cast doubt on the high-speed rail project, she said. The list includes:

  • California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group
  • California state auditor
  • California state treasurer
  • Legislative analyst’s office
  • Local governments including Tulare County, Madera County, Kings County and the city of Palo Alto
  • Several Democratic and Republican state legislators and US Representatives
  • UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.

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