California high-speed rail board delays key finance plan after lawmakers push back

An artist's rendering of a proposed California high-speed rail station is shown. <span class="copyright">(California High-Speed Rail Authority)</span>
An artist’s rendering of a proposed California high-speed rail station is shown. (California High-Speed Rail Authority)

Following a stunning rebuke by the State Assembly, the board of California’s high-speed rail authority this week put off approving a crucial 2020 business plan, a sign it has agreed to reassess the project’s current blueprint.

The authority’s board had planned to routinely approve the business plan at a meeting scheduled for Thursday and submit it to the Legislature as it has done every two years over the last decade.

The plan formally laid out a $20.4 billion blueprint to build a partial operating system in the San Joaquin Valley under a massive 30-year contract that would be issued this year.

But earlier this month, the Assembly approved a resolution that called on the rail authority to delay that contract and reassess the entire strategy of putting all of the remaining bullet train funds into the single stretch of high speed rail between Bakersfield and Merced.

The resolution attracted 67 of the 79 sitting members of the Assembly as cosponsors, including a majority of the Democrats who have never previously opposed any aspect of the rail authority’s development of the $80 billion system.

Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) set the process in motion last year, when he proposed shifting about $5 billion of the bullet train funds from the Central Valley to segments in the Bay Area and Southern California, including the Burbank to Anaheim corridor that the bullet train would eventually use.

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