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Politics

Critical Caltrain Funding Tied To High-Speed Rail Vote

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Caltrain Diridon station, San Jose

A Caltrain at San Jose Diridon Station. (Caltrain)

MattBigler20100909_KCBS_0384r Matt Bigler
KCBS's Matt Bigler started as a reporter/anchor in 2004, and is now...
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The future of Caltrain has now been tied to a key vote set for Friday on the California High-Speed Rail project that could also determine the future of Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to raise taxes.

When lawmakers vote on whether to start building the $69 billion high-speed rail system, they must also authorize $700 million to electrify Caltrain on the Peninsula and $500 million for rail upgrades in Los Angeles.

“Caltrain electrification’s very important to the Bay Area. It’s been a top priority for years. This vote will help secure that project to move forward,” said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

That local transit funding was included in the bill to win over legislators who have been on the fence about the rail line that could one day connect Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The centerpiece of the legislation is $6 billion to begin laying the first high-speed rail track in the Central Valley, a project critics have derided as a “train to nowhere.”

If the California legislature approves the high-speed rail funding, it could damage the prospects for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax package on the November ballot, according to results of a Field Poll released Thursday.

“Among voters who are supporting the Brown measure, one out of five say if funding for high-speed rail goes forward, they may not support the governor’s tax plan,” said poll director Mark Camillo.

The poll found 54 percent of likely voters support a tax package that would raise personal income tax for residents who make more than $250,000 a year and raise the sales tax by one-quarter of a cent for four years to generate money for public schools and community colleges. Thirty-eight percent oppose it.

Another tax measure by Molly Munger has 46 percent support, while a business tax championed by hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is leading by 43 percent. And in both cases, the poll results found nearly as many voters oppose the Munger and Steyer measures.

Most likely voters who support any of the tax measures were Democrats, and respondents who supported one tax increases tended to support the others, DiCamillo said, adding that only about 15 percent of the 997 likely voters surveyed between June 21 and July 2 actually favored one tax measure instead of another.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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