Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TBG's Election Guide: Proposition 1A

Last weekend, I received my official "voters' guide" for next month's election. As I flipped through it, I realized that the dozen or so ballot propositions run the gamut from significant to absurd.

And, this lightly-read blog is nothing if not one of those two things.

Proposition 1A asks voters to approve the issuance of $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds. This would partially fund a $40 billion, 800-mile high speed train under the supervision of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The train would run between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with Anaheim designated as the southern terminus of the initial segment of the high-speed train system.

Estimates are that the train system would be completed in 2030, and that it would take passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about 2 hours and 40 minutes. $950 million of the bond proceeds would be available for capital projects on other passenger rail lines to provide connectivity to the high-speed train system and for capacity enhancements and safety improvements to those lines.

Prop. 1A supporters include Governor Schwarzenegger and the Los Angeles Times, while the opposition is led by the usual collection of environmentalists and the cities of Menlo Park and Atherton. Out-of-state opposition from Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway has yet to be confirmed.

As a rule of thumb, I generally vote "no" on any initiative that includes a dollar sign. It seems that every year, Californians are asked to pay for improvements to schools, roads, etc. Every year, these measures pass overwhelmingly then magically re-appear a year or two later with the same "…our state's in dire need…" nonsense.

And, no one ever asks where last year's blank check went.

Earlier this month, our Governor asked the Treasury Secretary for $7 billion on behalf of California. While this request has since been withdrawn, it's pretty much all you need to know about the state of the economy out here, where we were years ahead of the housing market collapse curve.

TBG Votes: No. There are enough weasel words within this initiative to ensure this high-speed train system may never get built. Even if it does get completed, there's no way this Green pipedream finishes on time or on schedule. Honestly, I'm disappointed in my home state as our fiscal boondoggles are usually much less transparent than this.

No comments: