Saying California has betrayed the will of voters who approved a controversial high-speed rail project, Assembly Republicans on Thursday proposed giving those voters a redo.
"It's clear that the current high-speed rail project hardly resembles what the voters narrowly approved," said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Tulare.
Under the plan announced by a group of Republicans, voters would be able to decide whether to channel $8.5 billion in bond money, endorsed by voters via a 2008 ballot initiative, towards local transportation infrastucture projects.
The plan reflects both Republican ire over Gov. Jerry Brown's embattled project and the train's tenuous financial position. A Sacramento Superior Court judge in November ordered the Brown administration to tear up its funding plan, saying it had strayed from the terms of Proposition 1A, which authorized the bond issue back in 2008.
The Brown administration has since prevailed upon the California Supreme Court, and the high court ordered the case to be sent back to a lower court for an expedited review.
In addition to redirecting the high-speed rail money, the Republican package of four bills would dedicate up to $2.5 billion of a newfound state surplus to paying off transportation loans; ensure billions in fuel tax money flows annually into local infrastructure projects, per the terms of Proposition 42; and compel the state to repay $2.5 billion in gasoline tax revenue diverted elsewhere during lean budget years.
PHOTO: Assemblywoman Connie Conway, joined by fellow Republicans, unveils the caucus' transportation package in the State Capitol on February 6, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Jeremy B. White.