SACRAMENTO (KCBS/AP) _ Gov. Jerry Brown scored a big win for the $68 billion high-speed rail project this week by persuading fellow Democrats to dedicate a steady future funding source for it in the state budget.
The $108 billion general fund budget approved Sunday includes $250 million this year from the state’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions fund.
More important to rail supporters is the promise of 25 percent of all future cap-and-trade revenue each year. It signals the state’s investment in the beleaguered project, which has been saddled by delays and court challenges.
Rail officials believe the ongoing revenue will be enough to leverage bond borrowing and start work on new parts of the project, such as a segment connecting northern Los Angeles County to Burbank.
Speaking in Sacramento, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the new plan meets the July 1st deadline that California start spending on the project to trigger federal investment in the railroad.
“I know we would have the funding from D.C.” she said “One of the excuses they would use is, ‘Well we don’t know if they’re going to have any funding from California’”. That question has now been answered, Pelosi said.
Last week Republican Congressman Jeff Denham from the Central Valley got the House to cut off further federal spending on California’s bullet trains.
“Why should the federal government be putting more money in a project that is non-existent today?” Denham asked.
Four California Democrats joined Denham in voting to shut down high-speed rail.
Pelosi noted the Senate can reverse that House action. California already has almost $4 billion federal dollars in hand to begin construction.