Assemblyman wants to use funds for education
Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County), vice chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, on Monday introduced AB 5 to stop the High Speed Rail and to dedicate remaining bond funds for K-12 education. The High Speed Rail project has been under scrutiny since 2008 for major cost overruns, mismanagement, and massive delays. In order to address a $54 billion budget deficit, California passed a budget deferring billions of dollars for education. AB 5 will put the brakes on High Speed Rail for two years, freeing approximately $3 billion that would be re-directed to our schools.
“This pandemic has seriously damaged our state’s economy in devastating ways, particularly for our small business community,” said Fong. “Sacramento Democrats chose to defer payments to education, while continuing to spend billions on a boondoggle train project. This is another example of Sacramento mis-prioritizing taxpayer dollars and having the audacity to ask taxpayers to pay more during this pandemic.”
AB 5 would suspend the project's 25 percent share of cap-and-trade revenues for two years and reallocate an existing $2.4 billion that has yet to be spent. These funds would be used to mitigate proposed cuts to K-12 education.
The High Speed Rail is currently projected to cost $80-$100 billion, which is three times higher than the initial $33 billion cost estimate. Furthermore, the current project no longer resembles the High Speed Rail project that was sold to voters in 2008. The project is no longer even a LA-to-San Francisco connecting train system—it has been recast as a rail system connecting Merced to Bakersfield.
AB 5 is currently in the Assembly Rules Committee where it will be assigned to a policy and fiscal committee for a hearing in the coming months.