The Assembly approved initial funding for the project Thursday but it was not an easy fight in the Senate. It came with intense lobbying from Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg made an impassioned plea for approval.
STEINBERG: "How many chances do we have to vote for something that will inject a colossal stimulus into today's economy."
All Republicans present opposed the project as did four Democrats. Critics like GOP Senator Tony Strickland called the project a waste of money.
STRICKLAND: "I believe this is a colossal fiscal train wreck for California. Members, this is spending money we don't have."
The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter-approved bonds to build an initial 130-mile stretch in the Central Valley.