Republican lawmakers in California have introduced a bill that would block the state from selling bonds for a planned high-speed rail system.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, said at a press conference Tuesday that the bonds would cut into borrowing for other local transportation projects while significantly increasing the state’s debt. The GOP is in the minority in both houses of the Legislature.
Lawmakers will weigh issuing the first tranche of the $9 billion of voter-authorized bonds in the next few months to kick-start construction of the first leg of the project, now estimated to cost as much as $98 billion.
The federal government said it would provide $3 billion for the first leg of the system if it starts in the Central Valley.
A peer review panel recommended the state hold off on borrowing the billions of dollars, calling the project in its current form an “immense financial risk.”
In a December report, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said funding for the first stage is highly uncertain.
According to the draft plan from the California High Speed Rail Authority, the project would incorporate public-private partnerships.
Lawmakers created the authority in 1996 to plan a high-speed passenger train system to link the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay regions. In 2008, voters approved a $9.95 billion general obligation bond measure to seed construction.