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November 14, 2015

Comments

Joe

Here's a little more detail from the Times/Mercury News:

The "No Blank Checks Initiative" would require that voters be asked to approve every public infrastructure bond issue of more than $2 billion that requires new or higher taxes or fees. And it would apply not only to future bonds but to previously approved projects if the remaining bond authorization exceeds $2 billion.

State and local general obligation bonds -- borrowing guaranteed by the government's full faith and credit, repaid with general tax revenue -- already must be put to voters. This measure would extend that requirement to many revenue bonds, repaid using designated funding streams related to those projects -- for example, bonds issued for a bridge's construction or repair, to be repaid by bridge tolls.

Its aim is to short-circuit Brown's desire that bonds, to be repaid by water users, be used to fund his $15 billion Delta tunnel plan. Proponent Dean Cortopassi, a Stockton farmer and tunnel opponent, and his wife put up $4 million to circulate the qualification petitions.

http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_29114999/ballot-measures-aim-to-cut-funding-for-delta-tunnels-highspeed-rail

Joe

Here is a great excerpt from an e-newsletter called Unionwatch.org:

High speed rail was sold to voters back in 2008 in roughly the same way pension benefit enhancements were sold to naive politicians back around 1999. In both cases, the decision makers were told it would cost next to nothing. Isn’t this called fraud? To sell a good or service to a consumer at a given price, then come back and demand ten times as much money?

Payments on these construction costs will be paid from the California state general fund, and based on a $100 billion total cost and a 5.0% interest rate, that comes out to $166 per year per California resident. Not that much? Unimpressed? Put another way, based on roughly six million taxpaying households in California (about half of California’s 12 million households pay no taxes; their sales tax burden is largely offset by the earned income tax credit), construction of this train will cost $1,084 per taxpaying household per year.

Do you want to pay $1,000 per year for a project that will not alleviate California’s transportation challenges one bit? A project that will lose money forever? A project that will use up massive amounts of capital that could be deployed to achieve literally dozens of other huge and vitally needed infrastructure objectives?

This is where California’s labor leadership, by continuing to support high speed rail as a centerpiece project, are showing how out of touch they truly are with the average working family. Because they are unwilling to fight for major infrastructure investments that would improve the quality of life and lower the cost of living for all Californians; improvements to existing rail, upgraded roads, state-of-the art natural gas and 5th generation nuclear power stations, reservoirs and aquifer storage projects, upgraded sewage treatment plants to produce potable water, and much, much more. If California’s labor leaders care about all workers, they will find the vision and courage to fight for these useful amenities, instead of promoting high speed rail.

Peter Garrison

Big amen.

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