You just lack vision, Californians.
Despite voter polls turning hard against a proposed $68 billion high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles (by way of Fresno and Merced), the state Senate pulled the trigger on the initial funding today.
Four Democratic senators turned against the project, but it wasn’t enough. The final vote tally was 21-16 (with three no-shows). Two of the yes votes came in the last seconds of the roll call.
Here’s an intriguing paragraph from The Sacramento Bee’s breaking coverage that nicely illustrates why legislators would actually go against public opinion in the middle of a massive economic meltdown on an election year while asking the same public to approve a tax hike in four months:
The approval was a major legislative victory for Gov. Jerry Brown. [Senate President Pro Tem Darrell] Steinberg said the Democratic governor "talked to a couple members" ahead of the vote, while Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, reminded colleagues that the project not only had Brown's attention, but also that of President Barack Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Electorate, what electorate? Obama and Pelosi are the ones who matter.
Or rather, Obama and Pelosi are the ones who matter when you know you don’t have the courage to take on your public unions in Sacramento and are planning to go hat-in-hand to the federal government for a bailout when your state's economy crashes into a grove of fig trees at 200 miles per hour. Prediction: Appeasing the great and powerful O will pay off with federal dollars when weak-willed legislators prove utterly unable to defuse the state’s pension bomb. Also, if Obama wins reelection, perhaps he'll ride in on his unicorn and save California from the education cuts that are almost certainly likely to happen now that Brown's tax initiative is likely doomed.
Read our lengthy coverage of High-Speed Rail here, and be sure to check out our latest issue (August/September) for Reason.com Managing Editor Tim Cavanaugh’s column explaining how funding for rail transportation screws over the poor.