Last month, voters in Wisconsin and Ohio elected Republican governors who pledged to stop their state's high speed rail projects, even though they had won $1.2 billion in federal stimulus grants to begin the projects. On the same day, California voters overwhelmingly elected pro-HSR candidate Jerry Brown, who backed a bullet train proposal from LA to SD in the early 1980s, over the anti-HSR Meg Whitman.
Republicans in WI and OH wanted to redirect the federal stimulus funds to road projects, which is moronic – we need to fund 21st century infrastructure that liberates us from oil, rather than deepening our dependence on it. Jerry Brown and California voters – who themselves approved $10 billion in funds for HSR in 2008 – understand that we cannot have 21st century prosperity without it.
As newly elected Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio threaten to reject hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to build desperately needed high speed rail projects, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have stepped up to call on those funds to be redirected to California should they become available.
This is an excellent move by California's two Senators. The people of California have twice now shown their support for high speed rail, both with the approval of Prop 1A in November 2008 and their rejection of anti-HSR candidate Meg Whitman in the November 2010 election. Recent polling from across California and on the Peninsula shows HSR is still widely popular.
There was always a massive contradiction – or one might say, a dishonest hypocrisy of stunning proportions – at the heart of Carly Fiorina's US Senate campaign. She touts herself as someone who can create jobs, but her record as the failed and fired CEO of Hewlett-Packard shows her to be one of the worst offenders when it comes to corporate destruction of American jobs.
That is not only a contradiction, it's also a big campaign liability that was just waiting for someone to exploit it. And that's exactly what Senator Barbara Boxer did in last night's debate.
We've been arguing for a while that budget cuts merely worsen the state's real problem, which is the economic downturn. Instead of addressing unemployment, budget cuts are increasing the ranks of the unemployed. That further delays economic recovery and worsens the state budget deficit.
Now we have some academic backup for that common sense explanation. The UC Berkeley Labor Center has produced a study on the impact of Arnold's budget that shows just how much economic damage the governor's plans would do to the state, including eliminating 331,000 jobs and increasing the unemployment rate by nearly 2 percentage points.
Tomorrow is going to be an excellent day for California High Speed Rail. Multiple sources have verified that California will receive $2.35 billion in federal passenger rail stimulus funds. $2.25 billion of that goes directly to high speed rail, the other $100 million goes to other passenger rail projects including some of the Amtrak California routes that Richard Tolmach threw a temper tantrum about back in fall 2009.