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Assemblyman Jeff Gorell has filed paperwork to qualify a ballot measure that would put the brakes on California's high-speed rail project.

The measure would prohibit the sale of voter-approved bonds for the project. Any unspent money from previously sold bonds would have to be used to pay off the debt.

"California cannot afford to pay for a high-speed train system that will cost most than $100 billion at a time when prisoners are being released from prisons and taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay for basic services," the proposed initiative reads.

Gorell, R-Camarillo, is running for Congress this year against freshman Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, in the 26th Congressional District, one of the most competitive House seats in the state.

In November 2008, voters narrowly approved $9 billion in borrowing to help pay for a bullet-train system, which at the time had an estimated cost of $45 billion. Since then, the project's estimated cost has grown to an estimated $68 billion and legal challenges have put the bond money in limbo.

A Field Poll in July 2012 found that 56 percent of likely voters would oppose the rail project if it were up for another public vote, with 39 percent supportive.

The main challenge for Gorell and other opponents, though, will be to raise the money to gather the 504,760 valid voter signatures needed to qualify Friday's measure for the ballot.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown, an ardent bullet-train supporter, unveiled a budget this week that would direct $300 million toward the project.

"The high-speed rail is a reducer of greenhouse gases, an enhancement of the quality of California life and a bringing together of our various" communities around the state, Brown told reporters.

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, during session in March 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


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