California's $10 Billion High Speed Gamble

Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub evaluates the pros and cons of California's $10 billion High Speed Rail Proposition 1A. With state revenues are already expected to be over $10 billion short than projected, he thinks it is a risky measure.
October 21, 2008, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Would a new train, even a futuristic one, really be a better investment than giving 70,000 more young adults a college education every year? That's the kind of choice that is buried in these single-issue ballot measures but rarely debated.

More than two-thirds of the money to complete the project is supposed to come from sources still not identified. If that money never materializes, or comes up short, the taxpayers would some day be asked to step up with even more billions to finish the line, or risk stopping mid-project with the world's most expensive train to nowhere.

So it's a tough call in tough times. Californians are risk-takers. That trait defines our culture more than any other. This would be a big one. But there is also a risk in doing nothing.

In a few weeks, we'll know whether voters are feeling lucky or whether, with their own wallets pinched and the state government on the brink of financial collapse, they want to save this money for another day."

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Published on Sunday, October 19, 2008 in The Sacramento Bee
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