There has been much debate in the last few months about High Speed Rail (HSR) in California. Where should it start? Who should have the power to make decisions about the project?
In a show of support, Federal transportation officials stepped forward to once again solidify their decision to build the first leg of the project in the job-starved Central Valley. While this is an encouraging announcement, their efforts to bring jobs to California must be matched by our efforts to keep those jobs in California.
I introduced Assembly Bill 16, High Speed Rail Jobs, with the goal of keeping HSR funds in California. This bill will require the High Speed Rail Authority to make every effort to purchase rolling stock and related equipment that is made in California, with the ultimate goal of putting folks back to work.
Foreign companies are already clamoring for a chance to get involved with California’s HSR project. Firms in China, France, Spain and Japan have expressed interest in building trains for California’s HSR project. It is my goal to make sure that Californian’s benefit from the jobs created by HSR.
I am proud to have the California Labor Federation on board with AB 16. They made the following statement in support of the bill:
As construction progresses, California will need to contract with a company to purchase new high-speed trains. Currently all high-speed rail manufacturers are located overseas. But California has an opportunity to use public dollars to attract new manufacturers to California to build high-speed rail trains here, creating new jobs and a new industry.
The High Speed Rail Authority estimates 450,000 permanent new jobs will be created statewide over 25 years and the project will require technological support from industries that will come to California to service hundreds of miles of track, not to mention the trains themselves. Other new businesses will spring up, to answer the demands of a growing population, in turn growing our economy.
This is a simple bill that even has support from legislators who don’t necessarily believe in the benefits of HSR, as I do. But we all agree that California companies should be first on the list when HSR gets to full speed.