In mid 2011, I talked about Ohio’s Liberals efforts to build “High Speed Rail.” The bulk of my message was:
In 2009, Sherrod Brown urged the Federal Railroad Administration to provide stimulus funding for a high speed rail service to connect Ohio’s largest urban areas. Brown’s motivation was “economic development and job creation.” In January 2010, Obama rewarded his fair haired boy from Ohio with $400m in stimulus funds to connect Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. In December 2010, Ohio’s new Governor John Kasich forfeited the stimulus funding saying that “there are too many unanswered questions about how many people would ride the train, how fast the train would go, and how much it would cost.” At the time, the incoming Governor, Kasich, was facing an $8 billion budget deficit courtesy of out-going Governor Ted Strickland. Yet Strickland wouldn’t go quietly. He said “I fear that history will show that this one uninformed decision will be looked upon with regret by future generations of Ohioans.” While the future generations of Ohioans have not weighed in on this yet, it seems like Strickland was uninformed and the early returns suggest that Ohio dodged a fiscal bullet.
Where did the “stimulus” funding go?
In California, one of the prime beneficiaries of the forfeited Ohio cash, the LA Times referred to the high speed rail project as a “train wreck”, and added that “there is a powerful argument for scrapping Obama’s national rail plan,” and added “California is a test case whether high speed trains can succeed in the U.S., and so far, the state is failing.”
California’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO), a non-partisan fiscal and policy source of analysis for the California Legislature, has weighed in in saying that “the Legislature faces challenging choices about whether even to proceed with the project, noting that the projects optimistic 2009 business plan counts on federal, state and private funding that may not materialize.” The LAO report urges lawmakers to slash funding to the project while its future is reevaluated.
Fast forward to today:
California’s distressed state budget will have to allot more than $700 million each year to repay billions of dollars that officials plan to borrow to build the first phase of a proposed bullet train, a nonpartisan government research office has found.
The new estimate is part of an analysis of a proposed statewide vote on the controversial $98.5-billion fast-train link between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The bullet train’s impact on the cash-strapped state general fund budget, which funds schools and other basic services, could be a major point of contention in the Legislature this year.
With the state short about $86 billion to finish the initial phase, the project has faced increasingly tough questions in Sacramento, even while Gov. Jerry Brown has reiterated his support.
Gov. Brown still supports the project, but:
A recent Field Poll found that two-thirds of likely voters in the state want another chance to vote on the project and 59% would reject it because of the price tag. The results are similar to those of a public opinion survey done earlier this year by Probolsky Research of Newport Beach, which found that 62.4% of likely voters would reject the project if given the chance.
As I said in 2011, which now can be said about California’s Brown:
It’s safe to say that Sherrod Brown doesn’t think about the cost to taxpayers (Ohio & National). He wants more union jobs that will fund his re-election campaign. We now know that the CBO has increased the cost of the Stimulus program. It’s now $830b, and the CBO says that the increase in employment as a result was 3.3 million on the high side. At over $250k per job, that’s, a bargain to Progressives Democrats like Brown.
As an Ohio & Federal taxpayer, I thank Governor Kasich for avoiding this Liberal Debt trap.