Kashkari replied instantly, eager to highlight his steadfast opposition to California's high-speed rail project in front of a conservative audience: "Absolutely. Day one, that train is dead."
One big question now is whether, despite spending billions already, the project will ever be completed. Another is whether high-speed rail is the issue that can rejuvenate California's moribund Republican Party. For his part, Brown continues to embrace the undertaking, which has faced a series of legal, financial, and practical hurdles that have driven up costs and delayed construction for years. Even news that some members of his own party have abandoned the project hasn't dimmed Brown's unyielding optimism.
But there is one project Brown has decided not to save for the future: building the nation's first high-speed rail line, one of the largest infrastructure projects in U.S. history, with an estimated price tag of $68 billion--if not higher. Shovels are poised to hit the ground this year on the first section of track, the latest advance in Brown's 32-year quest (he signed the first bill authorizing a study of high-speed rail in 1982) to erect something he believes befits the image of California as a "land of dreams."
"We aren't all Twitter-holics that have to have instant gratification after 140 characters," Brown said. "We can take a few years and build for the future, and that's my sense here, that I'm coming back to be governor after all these years. It's been on my list for a long time."
Though the state has acquired $3.4 billion in federal funding to start construction of the rail project in the Central Valley, legal challenges have left state bond funding in question. Brown has made high-speed rail a priority, and he suggested two years ago that cap-and-trade revenue, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, would be a future source of funding for the project.
But the use of cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail could be problematic. While the rail project could eventually help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, benefits would not be seen until after 2020, the year by which California is seeking to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Last year, you authorized another big project: High Speed Rail. Electrified trains are part of the future. China already has 5000 miles of high speed rail and intends to double that. Spain has 1600 miles and is building more. More than a dozen other countries have their own successful high speed rail systems.
The first phase constructs 30 miles of tunnels and bridges [in the] Tehachapi Mountains . Then we will build another 33 miles of tunnels and bridges before we get the train to its destination at Union Station in the heart of Los Angeles.
It has taken great perseverance to get us this far. I signed the original high speed rail Authority in 1982--over 30 years ago. In 2013, we will finally break ground and start construction.
When I first came to Sacramento, Apple had not yet invented their personal computer. There was no wind generated electricity, and we didn't have the nation's most advanced appliance efficiency standards. Of course, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Twitter did not exist--not even in someone's imagination. California's economy has grown from less than $200 billion dollars when first I came to this rostrum to now over $2 trillion expected this year. California has been on the move--a marvel, even a miracle and some kind of gift.
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