http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/11/07/letter-jerry-hill-challenged-on-rail-funding-statement


Almanac

Viewpoint - November 7, 2012

Letter: Jerry Hill challenged on rail-funding statement

Here is an open letter to Assemblyman Jerry Hill:

In a recent candidate forum I was astounded to hear you defend your vote on the high-speed rail appropriation in July, saying that you did not vote to approve a $68 billion high-speed rail project. You stated your vote was to bring $1 billion to electrify Caltrain along a two-track corridor and also to send funds down south for other regional rail.

Really. The appropriation contained $6 billion to start the rail project in the Central Valley. The appropriation also approved spending $1.2 billion of the $9 billion authorized by the voter-approved Prop 1A bond funding in 2008, to improve or modernize regional rail.

The big problem is, Assemblyman Hill, that this $1.2 billion appropriation is clearly illegal. Prop 1A says these funds are to be used for a statewide high-speed rail project and not for regional commuter rail. That is what the voters approved in 2008, and the state Legislature has no right to change what the voters approved. This defense of your vote is clearly not valid.

Right now, Gov. Jerry Brown is running up and down the state promoting Prop. 30, a $50 billion tax increase, stating these funds will be used to fund schools, state colleges and state universities, and that failure of the voters to approve Prop. 30 will mean further cuts to these institutions.

Why should any voter believe what the governor promises? When you read Prop. 30, you see the funds go into the general fund and can be spent as approved. Yes, the funds could be spent on education, but there is no legal mandate to do so, only the governor's promise that this will be the result.

The high-speed rail appropriation in July was pushed through by Gov. Brown, Sen. Darrell Steinberg, and Sen. Mark Leno. Here you had the governor spending Prop 1A funds for projects clearly prohibited by the conditions in Prop 1A. Again, why should any voter believe the governor or the Legislature will end up spending the funds from the increased taxes, if Prop. 30 passes, for the educational system of the state? They just have no credibility.

Morris Brown Stonepine Lane, Menlo Park

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