California lawmakers approved a $156.4 billion state budget mere hours before a constitutional deadline earlier this week, and some Madera County legislators and representatives have raised eyebrows over portions they allege will disrupt local economies. Yet local education may get a boost.
One of the most notable inclusions — approved by the Democrat-dominated Legislature — is dedicated annual spending on the much-delayed high-speed rail project, which remains immensely unpopular amongst Madera’s agricultural interests and decidedly-Republican population.
This year, $250 million from the greenhouse gas emissions fund is slated for the bullet train and as much as $3-5 billion in annual allocations. That amount will mark a 124 percent increase on rail spending from the 2013-2014 budget, according to the Assembly Republican Caucus.
Executive director Anja Raudabaugh of the Madera County Farm Bureau, which won a settlement from the California High Speed Rail Authority in 2013, called the budget’s use of environmental funds for the $68 billion project a “cop out” and “absolute lie to voters.” ...