Thursday, February 10, 2011

Budget cutting for HSR in Washington

While we know that the intention of the new Republican majority in the House is transportation budget reductions, including high-speed rail, we don't yet know what they will negotiate amongst themselves, with the more radical Right demanding greater cuts, but the more moderate Republicans seeking to negotiate what they believe will be likely at voting time.  

The intended $1 billion cut from this year's budget for HSR is token, not substance.  As the Democrats make both their budget cuts and "investment" intentions known, a lot of public political posturing will be taking place.  We will need to keep our emotions in check until actual voting begins to take place.

Meanwhile, we can accomplish much by sending the Republicans in the House key documents that cite the CHSRA mismanagement as reported by the several state government agencies such as the LAO, Auditor, and IG, as well as their own peer review committee. John Mica acknowledged that he was interested in learning more details about the California project. He needs to know as much as possible about the true financial picture behind this project.   We can help him do that.


WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama's plan to bring Japanese-style bullet trains to the U.S. is facing stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where House Republicans Wednesday proposed canceling the program.

The White House outlined a plan earlier this week to spend $53 billion over the next six years on building and upgrading passenger-rail lines linking cities in populous regions. At least two projects—a proposed Tampa-to-Orlando route in Florida and a planned San Francisco-to-Los Angeles route—would allow trains to reach upward of 200 miles per hour, rivaling trains in Europe and Asia. Money would also go toward upgrading existing passenger lines in areas such as the northeast and midwest, though those trains would operate at slower speeds.

But House Republicans said Wednesday they would cut $1 billion in high-speed rail funding. The proposal released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) would eliminate the entire funding proposed by the White House for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The proposal follows previous calls by House Republican leaders to cut rail funding to reduce the deficit.

With Republicans now in control of the House, the proposal portends a political battle ahead. The White House on Monday is set to release a budget plan for the next fiscal year that is expected to include $8 billion in rail funding.

Republicans are also proposing big cuts in funding for Amtrak, the federally subsidized national railroad operator.

The Obama administration has already committed $10.5 billion for passenger-rail projects, which the White House said would create construction jobs, spur economic activity and reduce dependence on oil. Republicans say many of the projects won't achieve significant ridership levels, leaving taxpayers on the hook for operating costs.
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