California lawmakers expressed skepticism Saturday about the timing and magnitude of Gov. Jerry Brown's high-speed rail revision, saying it may take longer than the governor wants to sort through the numbers.
The administration will announce Monday settling on $68.4 billion, according to sources familiar with the plan, proposing major design changes in and around Los Angeles and the Bay Area in an eleventh-hour bid to improve the project's chances of approval by the Legislature.
But some legislators noted today that just last year the Brown administration itself raised the proposed cost to $98 billion.
"We are a matter of weeks away from various budget deadlines," said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. "When the cost estimates are up and down and up and down by orders of magnitude here, I think folks are going to want to make sure we spend some time to understand how reliable are these figures, and what's the basis for the new estimate."
Simitian, chairman of the budget subcommittee considering high-speed rail, said the authority "seems to have been listening and making an effort to be responsive," but that the Legislature is unlikely to appropriate funding - as Brown is expected to request - before the state budget is adopted in June.
"I think we're going to have to look past the June 15 budget adoption date," he said.
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said legislative approval of the plan before that date would require a "heroic effort."
"It's the biggest capitol project in the history of the state, and it should be done properly," he said. "Given that the numbers have bounced around so much, it's a lot to ask."