Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview airing in Los Angeles today that California's high-speed rail project will cost far less than the state's current estimate of nearly $100 billion and that environmental fees paid by carbon producers will be a source of funding.
"It's not going to be $100 billion," the Democratic governor said on ABC 7's Eyewitness Newsmakers program. "That's way off."
Brown's remarks come as his administration prepares revisions to the California High-Speed Rail Authority's latest business plan. Brown is trying to push the project through an increasingly skeptical Legislature following a series of critical reports.
"Phase 1, I'm trying to redesign it in a way that in and of itself will be justified by the state investment," Brown said. "We do have other sources of money: For example, cap-and-trade, which is this measure where you make people who produce greenhouse gasses pay certain fees - that will be a source of funding going forward for the high speed rail."
Brown said, "It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying."
The annual spending plan Brown released this month included $1 billion in cap-and-trade revenue for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The budget document lacked detail, however, saying, "Further detail on specific program areas will be developed when there is more certainty of fees received from the Cap and Trade Program."
The interview aired following Brown's trip last week to Southern California, his second in two weeks as he begins campaigning for his ballot initiative to raise taxes.
"It isn't all, you know, going to football games and buying clothes and cars and gasoline and all the things people want to do in their private life," Brown said. "We also have a public investment, and that's part of the balance of a civilization."
Brown has also proposed changes to reduce pension costs, and he suggested he may take that measure to the ballot, too, if the Legislature does not act.
"One way or the other, if we can't get it through the Legislature," he said, "then there's always the initiative route at some point."