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By Tim Hunt

Disconnects in Sacramento

Uploaded: Jul 10, 2012

Consider that the budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor relies on voters passing a significant temporary tax increase in November. The measure, which the governor qualified as an initiative through the efforts of his allies at the California Teachers Association thus avoiding the Republicans in the Legislature, calls for a 7-year income tax increase on high earners and a 4-year one-quarter cent increase in the sales tax.
It's counted upon to fill an $8 billion hole—nearly 10 percent of the budget.
A week after cleaning up the budget with its huge gamble, the majority of the Democrats in the Legislature voted to authorize the first $8 billion for the state's high speed rail project that makes the budget look like a sure thing on a slot machine in Las Vegas. The latest estimate cost of the high-speed train is $69 billion—believe the state will hit that number and I have a great deal for you on beachfront property in Nome, Alaska.
The total funding identified now is just $13.3 billion—the fantasies presented by the High Speed Rail Authority envision the feds coughing up another $38.6 billion along with private investors (have you seen them lining up?) contributing $13.1 billion and another $5.2 billion coming from other sources.
Four senators, including Mark DeSaulnier who will represent the Tri-Valley area after the November elections, voted No. Joining him were Joe Simitian from Palo Alto, Alan Lowenthal from Long Beach and Fran Pavley from Santa Monica. Notably, DeSaulnier, Simitian and Lowenthal are the three senators who are the most knowledgeable about the project and all opposed it.
Just what planet their colleagues and the governor are living on is open to question—it brings to mind Gov. Moonbeam from his first term.
The federal government currently borrows 40 percent of every dollar spent under President Obama with the Democrat-controlled Senate that hasn't passed a budget in three years. If voters are foolish enough to return to Democrat control of the presidency as well as both houses of Congress, it's still folly to think the feds are going to throw tens of billions more at a highly questionable project in a state they own from an election standpoint.
Voters—who will be bombarded in the fall with television from the state teachers union and other public employee unions—may actually connect the dots between the absurd spending on the high speed rail and the governor's request for a tax increase that will hit schools hard should it fail. Something about getting the capitol's house in order before asking the hard-pressed taxpayers for more.
That will put pension reform on the front burner come August when the Legislature returns to session.