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Budget keeps Schwarzenegger in California--and away from Vegas

July 2, 2009 |  6:55 pm

Sigh -- another California tourist lost.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggerwas scheduled to appear in Nevada today to celebrate the extension of the California High Speed Rail Corridor to Las Vegas. But there were 29,000 IOUs between him and a Sin City trip.

Instead, Caltrans Director Will Kemptonexplained Schwarzenegger’s absence to a group sweating under a white canopy downtown. "There’s something about a budget crisis in Sacramento. ... Believe me, he’d rather be in Las Vegas," Kempton said.

Wondering what he missed? Here’s a rundown: The corridor extension should help Southern California-to-Vegas rail projects secure government loans. Two have been competing for, in particular, the backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.): a somewhat troubled project, which would link to Anaheim, and the DesertXpress, a high-speed train to Victorville. (Yes, that’s the housing-crunched Inland Empire city where a developer recently bulldozed homes.)

Today, Reid -- joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood-- reiterated his support for DesertXpress, which is privately financed, closer to breaking ground and backed by Sig Rogich, a Republican heavyweight who’s supporting Reid’s reelection efforts.

California’s Governator also missed the view from downtown Vegas: a concrete truck, homes with barred windows, a rent-by-the-month motel and a bail bonds shop. Almost made Sacramento seem delightful. Almost.

-- Ashley Powers