The rail system, a priority of Governor Jerry Brown, would send
passengers hurtling through the state's fertile San Joaquin Valley
as they travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Lines would
eventually extend to San Diego and Sacramento.
The project, now estimated to cost $68 billion, has been dogged by
controversy with questions over its planned routes, ridership
estimates and projected costs.
While it is uncertain if the proposed measure by Assemblyman Jeff
Gorell will eventually qualify for a statewide ballot, it seizes on
potential voter discontent over the project.
"California cannot afford to pay for a high-speed train system that
will cost more than $100 billion at a time when prisoners are being
released from prisons and taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper
into their own pockets to pay for basic services," the measure says.
The state's efforts to sell bonds for the rail project had already
suffered a blow when a judge in November ruled against plans to
issue more than $8 billion in bonds for financing.
Brown, a Democrat, and other project supporters say the rail network
will prove to be a jobs boon for California and transform the
state's transportation infrastructure by linking far-flung
The measure would ask voters, who in 2008 approved nearly $10
billion in state general obligation bonds to help fund construction
of the project, to reject further bond sales for high-speed rail.
[to top of second column]
In his ruling in November, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge
Michael Kenney said there was too little information to support a
decision by the authority overseeing the project to move forward
with the sale of more than $8 billion in bonds.
The judge also ordered the authority to rescind its funding plan for
the system, but did not halt the project, which has more than $3
billion in federal funds at its disposal. A new funding plan is in
As a first step to get his measure on the ballot, Gorell filed it
with the state attorney general's office on Friday, a required step
before launching a petition drive. To qualify for the ballot, Gorell
must collect 504,760 valid signatures.
A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll released in September showed
that seven out of 10 California voters wanted another vote on
whether the rail project should continue, with 52 percent saying it
should be stopped. The poll of 1,500 registered voters had a margin
of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
(Reporting by Jim Christie; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Ken Wills
and Leslie Adler)
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