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Bullet Train to Nowhere

by Lee Schalk / /

There’s no getting around it—California is underwater. State officials are constantly telling taxpayers that they aren’t coughing up enough money to fund “essential” services, necessitating huge tax hikes or savage program cuts (or both) to make ends meet. But my mother always said, “Actions speak louder than words,” and California’s actions say that legislators’ spending addiction is alive and well.   

Despite facing unprecedented budget challenges, last Friday the State Senate approved funding for America’s first “bullet” train. It’s supposed to shoot from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but right now it’s aimed squarely at the taxpayers’ collective wallet. Total cost of this monstrosity is estimated to be $203 billion. Terms like “irresponsible” and “out-of-control” don’t even begin to describe the madness of the Senate’s vote. High speed rail will be catastrophic for the state budget.

Of course, this project comes with promises of instantly lowering the state’s 10.8 percent unemployment rate, eliminating traffic congestion, and saving Mother Earth. Hate to break it to you, but the chances of really, really fast train solving your state’s problems are slim to none (closer to none).This project is a boondoggle of the highest order.

But there’s an even bigger problem: they quite literally don’t have the money. The geniuses in the legislature passed a budget with $4.75 billion in funds that don’t exist for the high-speed rail project with the hope that taxpayers will approve massive tax increases on the November ballot to cover it. California has higher tax burdens than all but five states and a business tax climate that’s worse than all but two states. Appropriating dollars based on the hope that citizens approve even higher taxes is just reckless and foolish.

It’s time to organize and fight back. The citizens of Californian must send Governor Brown and his cronies a message in November by rejecting his tax increases. Not only has Brown authorized billions of dollars for the bullet train disaster, but he's attempting to raise the sales tax to 7.5 percent and impose an income tax increase on those making more than $250,000 per year (rates for Californians making more than $1 million will jump from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent). 

The insanity has already gone too far. Fifteen thousand California millionaires abandoned ship from 2000-2003, and the state’s “leaders” have done absolutely nothing to stop the bleeding since then. If this financial bullet hits its mark, how will California survive?

The good news is that there are some signs that the people of California are sick of sinking. In a July 5 poll, 1 in 3 voters said they would be less likely to support Governor Brown’s tax increases if funding for the train was approved because they understand that a state that’s appropriating dollars it doesn’t have is not being responsible with the ones it does.