Bill Introduced to Stop $19.5 Billion in Highway Repair Funds from Paying Off High Speed Rail Debt

by Assemblyman Patterson : ad23.asmrc – excerpt

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Legislation was introduced Tuesday to prevent the High Speed Rail Authority from using tax dollars intended to improve California’s roadways to pay off billions of dollars in bond debt created by the controversial project.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) authored AB 65 to ensure taxes and fees collected in the State Highway Account to repair the state’s crumbling streets, highways and roads are not used by the High Speed Rail Authority to pay off Prop 1A bond debt. The principal and interest payments will cost taxpayers $19.5 billion over the next 30 years, a figure omitted by the High Speed Rail Authority in every report but confirmed by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The legislature gave the Rail Authority the green light to use funds from the State Highway Account in 2009, despite knowing full well the looming need to use those funds to repair millions of miles of crumbling roadways driven by Californians. These funds are collected from sales and excise taxes as well as gas taxes and truck weight fees. The State Highway Account has been historically used for highway and road repairs.

“Governor Brown ordered a halt to road projects claiming the state didn’t have enough money to complete them,” Assemblyman Patterson said. “Now he and the legislature plan to use $19.5 billion of those very road funds – they claim they don’t have – to pay off high speed rail bond debt instead of fixing our roads and highways. The people never approved such a scheme when they voted on High Speed Rail. Yet those in charge in Sacramento will do it any way while still demanding higher taxes from drivers. This is a blatant bait and switch that would amount to fraud if anyone in the private sector did the same thing.”

On Tuesday the High Speed Rail Authority approved the taking of Prop 1A money. This marks the beginning of an unchecked process drawing down billions of dollars to pay High Speed Rail bond debt – money that could be used to repair our streets, highways, roads and bridges right now.

Assemblyman Patterson also re-introduced AB 66, legislation which received unanimous, bipartisan support to force greater transparency on the Authority but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill requires the Authority to provide details about the cost, scope, and schedule of each project segment to make it easier to track changes in the project as well as include financing costs in all future business plans… (more)

Assemblyman Patterson (R-Fresno) represents the 23rd Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes communities in Fresno and Tulare County.


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