New Proposed California Initiative Seeks to End Bullet Train Project

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California Bullet Train Project
Conceptual rendering of the California High-Speed Rail project.

A conservative radio host is proposing a new initiative to end California’s bullet train project and divert tens of billions of dollars of funding for highway construction and maintenance from the state to local governments.

On Friday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that Carl DeMaio, the proponent of the initiative “was cleared to begin collecting petition signatures.”

DeMaio is a former member of the San Diego City Council. He considers himself a government reformer. He was one of the proponents of the unsuccessful gas tax repeal initiative.

In a filing to state Attorney General’s office, DeMaio claimed, “California’s taxpayers already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country but are forced to suffer with some of the worst roads and infrastructure in the country because politicians have diverted, stolen, and wasted the funds.”

His proposed new initiative seeks to allocate revenues from state taxes and fees on vehicles to local governments for road construction and repairs as well as for mass transit.

Additionally, the proposed measure aims to allocate state motor vehicle fuel taxes to local governments for road construction and repair by private, non-governmental entities.

Furthermore, it seeks to terminate the California bullet train project no later than June 30, 2021.

Proposed initiative will hurt California residents and its economy

In a statement, Graham Knaus, the executive director of the California State Association of Counties, “The proposed initiative that’s been approved for circulation is short-sighted and would ultimately hurt California residents.

He added, “It would raid existing funding for vital programs…and create a major hole in state general fund. Californians just overwhelmingly rejected this type of vicious attack on services.”

On the other hand, Cesar Diaz, the legislative director for the California Building and Construction Trades Council, believe that DeMaio’s proposals will “damage the state’s economy and cut jobs.” It will also “jeopardize highway reliability and safety.”

A state analysis indicated that the proposed initiative would shift approximately $10 billion in outgoing state revenues from state and local non-transportation programs to local transportation programs.

It will also divert around $12 billion in existing ongoing state revenues for transportation to local governments.

The proposed initiative will likely increase ongoing state spending of several billions annually to back-fill certain programs affected by the shift, according to the state analysis.

In order for the proposed initiative to qualify for the ballot, DeMaio needs to collect 585,407 signatures of registered voters. He is required to submit the signatures to the California Secretary of State’s office May 28, 2019.