Senate Democrat Leadership Kills Senator Andy Vidak's Effort to Let the People Re-Vote on High-Speed Rail

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Senate Democrat Leadership today killed Senator Andy Vidak’s (R-Hanford) effort to put California’s high-speed rail (HSR) system on the November 2014 ballot for a re-vote and immediately freeze funding for the project until the election. 

“I was simply asking to let Californians re-vote on high speed rail,” said Vidak.  “Much has changed since Californians voted on this issue in 2008, and the people deserve the right to vote on whether billions of dollars of taxpayer money should be spent on this boondoggle.”

In 2008, voters were told that the cost of the project was estimated at $35 billion, but now that cost has escalated to somewhere between $60 billion and $100 billion. 

In 2008, voters were told that the bullet train would make the trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes.  The trip will really be closer to four hours.  Voters were told the train would sustain 220 mph throughout the entire trip, but we now learn that train speeds will be substantially reduced on key areas of track meaning passenger travel time will be longer.

In 2008, voters were told the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost approximately $50.  The projected fare is now over $100 a ticket.  Voters were also told that the route would be built along existing rail corridors and that the project would create jobs.

“It’s shameful that many people in my district will lose their jobs, their farms, their homes and their businesses because this runaway train will tear right through the middle of their properties,” said Vidak. 

A Superior Court judge ruled last month that the High-Speed Rail Authority “abused its discretion” by continually failing to comply with financial and environmental requirements approved by the voters in 2008.

Quentin Kopp, a past High-Speed Rail Authority chairman, said the HSR Authority was committing “the great train robbery if they can get away with it.”

A March 2013 Public Policy Institute of California poll found that only 43 percent of Californians support the HSR project, and in late 2011, a Field Poll study found that 64 percent of Californians want a re-vote on the high speed rail system.

“Rather than spend $3 billion in taxpayer dollars to build the first segment of this mismanaged train project in the Central Valley, let’s invest in a clean and reliable water supply, or create jobs by funding more career and technical education programs, or expand affordable neighborhood health care clinics into our rural areas,” said Vidak. 

The Senate voted 24 to 11 along party lines to reject the set of amendments Vidak offered to allow Californians to re-vote on the high-speed rail system.

Republican senators that voted to take up the set of amendments:
Anderson, Berryhill, Emmerson, Fuller, Gaines, Huff, Knight, Nielsen, Vidak, Walters, Wyland.

Democrat senators that voted to reject the set of amendments:
Beall, Block, Calderon, Corbett, Correa, De Leon, DeSaulnier, Evans, Galgiani, Hernandez, Hill, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Roth, Wolk, Wright, Yee.

To read the set of amendments, click here.