Wasting no time after a victorious midterm election, GOP Congressional leaders who promised to slash spending are looking to make an example out of the nation’s priciest public works project: California’s $43 billion high-speed railroad.
A coalition of 27 House Republicans, led by the ranking member of the committee that controls spending, wants to yank $2 billion in stimulus funds promised to California to kick start the massive project.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, last week introduced the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescission Act,” which would return the final $12 billion in unspent and uncommitted stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury to help fight the $1.3 trillion U.S. deficit.
About half the remaining stimulus money is set aside for planned high-speed rail projects. The largest is in California, which has spent nearly $200 million of its $2.25 billion award on planning but is saving the rest for construction.
Without stimulus funds — which unlocked another $2 billion in matching state bond money — California would not have enough cash available to start construction and no timeline to do so.
The state plans to spend more than $4 billion to start laying tracks in the Central Valley by the stimulus deadline of September 2012. The tracks would extend to the Caltrain line from San Francisco to San Jose and to Southern California, with service starting by 2020.
Although the funds would barely make a dent.