Signature gathering approved for measure to stop bullet train
Backers of a proposed initiative to block the California bullet train project received approval Friday from the secretary of state to collect signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.
The initiative, which would stop the sale of state bonds to finance the project, is backed by state Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and former Central Valley congressman George Radanovich.
The measure needs 504,760 signatures by Aug. 13 to qualify for the ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said.
A $9.95-billion bond issue for the high-speed rail project, which would connect Southern California and the Bay Area with 220 mph bullet trains, was narrowly approved by voters in 2008. The bond issue included $950 million for transit projects and $9 billion for the high-speed rail. Of that total, the state has issued about $400 million in bonds for the bullet train and about $100 million for transit projects, which will have to be paid off in future years.
LaMalfa argues that the state has more pressing financial needs than the bullet train.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan state research office, estimates that the state will save $709 million a year in annual debt service if it does not issue the bonds.
-- Ralph Vartabedian
Photo: Artist's rendering of proposed California bullet train. Credit: California High Speed Rail Authority