Assembly Introduces Measure Directing High Speed Rail Authority to Obtain Approval before Entering Into Long-Term Contracts
Sacramento – Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Frazier (D- Fairfield), joined by a majority of his Assembly colleagues, introduced House Resolution 97, directing the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) to not enter into certain contracts before the Legislature has considered and approved its funding request for the remaining High-Speed Rail bond funds.
According to HSRA’s Draft Business Plan, it plans to sign multibillion-dollar contracts for electrified tracks and rail cars this fall, and then request the remaining bond funds necessary to complete its plans next spring. This action would essentially force the Legislature to support a path forward that many in the Assembly have vocally questioned.
“The only remaining opportunity for the Legislature to weigh in on the direction of the high-speed rail project occurs when HSRA asks us for the remaining $4.2 billion in bond funds,” Chairman Frazier stated. “We cannot allow HSRA, or any department, to enter into contracts that bind the Legislature’s approval of future appropriations. The Legislature’s role in approving the budget must be respected before key decisions on the state’s largest infrastructure project are made.”
Many other members of the Committee as well as the Assembly in general also commented on HSRA’s plan to enter into contracts before the Legislature is able to weigh in.
“It is important to make sure that the High-Speed Rail Authority does not close the door to options other than the one created by a small handful of bureaucrats and the unelected Authority board. The voters have been given no voice since 2008 and their elected representative, the Legislature, has had no vote since 2012,” said Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). “Both of those votes were based on a much different high-speed rail project than the one under the proposed contract. That proposal would lock current legislators, and legislators for the next 15 sessions, into a no-changes situation. It’s time to pause and make sure that the plan to go forward works for 2020 and has the support of those of us elected to represent the people of California.”
“Our high-speed rail project is the largest infrastructure project in California history, and it should be subject to strict oversight,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “Before we commit public dollars to 30-year contracts, we need to ensure that it’s a sound investment that delivers a reliable and cost-effective high-speed rail system.”
"We're not signing off on the expensive, long-term commitment in the proposed contract,” said Assemblymember Tom Daly (D – Anaheim). “The Assembly has an essential role to play in terms of oversight and ensuring that public agencies are spending public dollars responsibly. This resolution signals that we do not intend to sign off on a plan when viable alternatives have been brushed aside or ignored by the High Speed Rail Authority.”
“Given the large price tag of High-Speed Rail, the Legislature has a responsibility to all Californians to use our oversight authority and carefully evaluate how best to appropriate funds when it comes to passenger rail projects," said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “HR 97 creates an opportunity for much-needed discussions regarding bond funds before HSRA enters into contracts tying up funds without proper input from the Legislature.”
Development of high-speed rail in California began more than 20 years ago. SB 1420 (Kopp), Chapter 796, Statutes of 1996, created the HSRA to direct development and implementation of intercity high-speed rail service that would be fully coordinated with other public transportation services.
For more information on this legislation, or to learn more about Assemblymember Frazier, please visit his website.
# # #
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.
CONTACT: Galen Dobbins (916) 319-2011 Galen.Dobbins@asm.ca.gov