Sacramento – On a party-line vote, the California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) today rejected Senator Andy Vidak’s (R-Hanford) request to audit the California High-Speed Rail (HSR) Authority’s secretive internal process for estimating the costs to build the controversial bullet train project.
Vidak’s request for an independent review by the State Auditor was inspired by a recent LA Times article that revealed that the HSR Authority kept secret for two years a report that showed costs overruns in the billions of dollars.
The report proved that the HSR Authority misled the Legislature and the public about a $9 billion discrepancy between estimated and actual costs, and hid that discrepancy until it was pressured by the Speaker of the Assembly to release the report.
“The High- Speed Rail project is the most expensive megaproject proposed in the history of California and the nation. Scientists, engineers and tunneling experts all confirm that High-Speed Rail will be behind schedule and over budget, ” said Vidak. “Taxpayers deserve to know what the actual costs are likely to be and the best way to find out is to let the State Auditor, who is independent of party politics, do her job.”
David Wolfe, representing the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, testified in support of the independent audit.
The party-line vote to reject the audit was 7 – 3. Senators Jim Beall, Cathleen Galgiani and Ricardo Lara, and Assemblymembers Nora Campos, Mike Gibson, Adrin Nazarian and Jim Wood (Democrats) voted in opposition to the audit. Senator Jean Fuller and Assemblymembers Catharine Baker and Brian Jones (Republicans) voted to support the High-Speed Rail Authority audit. Senators Richard Roth and Connie Leyva (Democrats), and Senator Anthony Cannella and Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (Republicans) did not vote.