State Senate leader pushes for more money
SACRAMENTO (AP) — The leader of the California Senate called Wednesday on the Obama administration to say now whether it will commit more federal money to the state’s high-speed rail project if the president wins a second term.
The request came as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg pushes skeptical state lawmakers to approve $2.7 billion in initial spending by July 1 to meet a federal construction deadline.
The federal government has pledged $3.5 billion, on top of the $9 billion authorized by state voters.
A sticking point is whether more federal money will be available to complete the project once it gets under way. The rail project is expected to cost at least $68 billion.
Money for the rail line would eventually need approval from Congress.
Still, Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he hopes “the Obama administration itself would signal now that they intend to make a priority of the allocation of more federal dollars for California.”
The additional money would go toward extending high-speed rail from Bakersfield to Palmdale, the next stage of the project, he said.
Justin Nisly, press secretary for the federal Department of Transportation, did not directly address whether more money would be allocated. But he noted the administration has consistently backed highspeed rail and included passenger rail funding in every budget and transportation bill it has proposed.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority faces a September 2017 federal deadline to finish the first segment of the line in the Central Valley, from Madera to Fresno.
The authority’s business plan assumes that the federal government eventually will provide an additional $4 billion over the next decade, on top of the $3.5 billion it already is providing.