Ballot Measure Boondoggle – High Speed Rail Costs Balloon to $100 Billion

By Steve Maggi

Nearly $100 billion. That’s what High Speed Rail is now going to cost California taxpayers – more than double the costs initially promised by the proponents of Prop 1A, which contained the initial taxpayer financing for the project.

2033. That’s when the HSR project is now expected to be completed – 13 years after it was initially supposed to be completed.

So, in the three short years since voters were sold this bill of goods, the costs have gone up $50+ billion and the time to complete the project has doubled. How could that be? Maybe the cost of labor has skyrocketed, despite unemployment being in double digits? Or maybe the cost of purchasing land for the tracks has dramatically increased, despite the real estate market being down? Or – just maybe – the special interests that pushed High Speed Rail didn’t give voters all the facts when they sold this program in 2008.

Over and over again, California voters have been sold the benefits of a new program that ended up costing taxpayers more money, that lacked sufficient oversight or accountability, or that failed to deliver on the promised benefits. High Speed Rail, stem cell research, the First 5 programs … all of these programs have faced at least some of these problems.

But that hasn’t stopped special interests, who keep coming to California voters with more ballot measures to get more of our hard earned tax dollars for new programs. The latest ballot box boondoggle is being pushed by a former career politician, who wants to create a huge new taxpayer-funded bureaucracy with six political appointees. The so-called California Cancer Research Act – on the ballot next June – would raise taxes on tobacco by $1 a pack for this big new spending program.

California can’t even pay for the current programs on the books, and a former politician wants to start a new program. How long before this program has cost overruns, and Sacramento comes calling asking for more from California taxpayers?

Steve Maggi Is Host & Executive Producer of Free America Radio.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001