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State Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Pull High Speed Rail Funding

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

As lawmakers returned to Sacramento this month, the nearly 100-billion dollar project was one of the hottest topics.  Republican Assemblywoman Diane Harkey-a  longtime critic-has made no secret of her intentions.

"If we want to pull the plug on high speed spending, we can do it. We have the authority in the state Constitution."

Harkey has introduced legislation to stop the state funding. The California High Speed Rail Authority wants the legislature to approve nearly three billion dollars in state bonds. Those would match federal funds to pay for building the first part of the system in the Central Valley. Harkey says the state constitution gives the legislature the power to say no.

"I want to intervene while we can before major construction begins in the Central Valley. There may be a way to utilize the funds, but this plan, this project is not the way to do it."

Meanwhile, another Republican lawmaker wants to put the matter to voters again.  But high speed rail has its supporters, most notably Governor Jerry Brown.

 "I'm of the view that this is the time for big ideas, not shrinking back and looking for a hole to climb into. California is a big state, America can have a high speed rail system like every other major country and I think we've gotta move forward."

Other supporters point to the jobs it will create, particularly in the Central Valley where unemployment is high. The state Department of Finance is currently reviewing the project's revised business plan-after that it will issue its analysis for the initial segment.
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