Jan 15, 2014

Whip McCarthy Testifies at Hearing on California High Speed Rail

Washington D.C. – House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) gave the following testimony regarding the flawed California High Speed Rail project before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials:

“Mr. Chairman, the authority has yet to break ground for the high speed rail project, but they have already dug themselves in a hole and are wasting the public’s money.”

VIDEO: HERE

TRANSCRIPT:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding another important hearing on California high speed rail and for allowing me to testify today.

“I have expressed my opposition to the California High Speed Rail Authority’s deeply flawed business plan, which is not what California voters approved in Proposition 1-A back in 2008, and I do so again today.

“I continue to have serious concerns with the Authority’s finances and how they plan to come up with the tens of billions of additional funds needed to complete the project. To date, the Authority has never provided a satisfactory answer, and continues to move forward with this project. My colleagues and I even commissioned the Government Accountability Office to audit the Authority’s plan, and GAO also expressed concerns about the Authority’s funding sources, public and private. Not one additional cent has been identified for this project.

“In fact, the Authority recently lost its largest source of funds when a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge prohibited the Authority from spending state funds on this project because they are violating requirements set by Prop 1-A. That leaves the Authority with just a little over three billion in Federal tax dollars to waste while they come up with new schemes to get state funds, like cap-and-trade. Not to mention, one of the original requirements for spending these federal funds was that the state matches every federal dollar it spends, a requirement the state now looks unable to ever meet.

“The authority’s business plan and funding sources for the high speed rail project were questionable from day one. The real concern here is the prudent use of billions of tax-payer’s dollars, which the Authority has proven time and again that they are unable to be good stewards of.

“In addition, I know many on our side of the aisle were disappointed by the Surface Transportation Board’s decision last year to approve the 1st segment of this project. I disagree with this decision and believe STB should have reviewed the project in its entirety rather than in an unprecedented, segment-by-segment piecemeal fashion. At least STB refused to approve the second segment of this project until environmental documentation is complete. This is just another example of how the High Speed Rail Authority continues to bend the rules and seek exemptions to ram through high speed rail because they believe they know what is best for Californians.

“Mr. Chairman, the authority has yet to break ground for the high speed rail project, but they have already dug themselves in a hole and are wasting the public’s money. Since approving Prop 1-A, California voters have turned on this project because they now see it for the boondoggle it is. The Authority has not dealt with Central Valley communities in a meaningful manner, has failed to properly plan this project, and has failed to secure any additional funding. If the Authority cannot prove to us and this committee that California high speed rail is viable, what makes any of us think they can build it, much less operate and maintain it? I call again for an end to the Authority’s current plan for California high speed rail and that not one more Federal tax dollar is spent on this boondoggle.

“Thank you for your time today.”