The Backwards Priorities of Proposition 1A

Let’s say for instance that you work the night shift at a low-paying job, you still drive the ’84 coupe you bought used and you’re renting a small one-bedroom apartment. You work hard, you save, but at this moment in time you’re barely making it. Oh, and don’t forget your credit card debt that has piled up over the years.

Your dream is to someday break out of your job, move to a nice house and most importantly, own a new Ferrari. You have the ambition, and one day you’ll have it, but for now, you have more important things to focus on.

It’s midnight, and the California economy is still working the nightshift, trying to pay off the debt. It’s nice to dream about a multi-billion dollar rail link, but now is not the time to have one. California has other priorities.

The editorial board of the Pasadena Star-News has California’s priorities correct. They write, “We need to find ways to simply balance our budget in order to pay teachers, keep health clinics open and operate other essential services, we’re going to have to wait to get aboard this train.”

In the end, tax payers will end up footing the bill, says a study co-sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Tax Foundation, The Reason Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste. The report estimates the true cost of the project could amount to anywhere between $65.2 billion and $81.4 billion—and that’s in the year 2008 dollars.

The editorial board at the San Diego Union Tribune, calling the project the “biggest boondoggle ever,” explains that California is in a “crisis” and for years, Sacramento has “spent hundreds of millions of dollars more than it has taken in.”

Today, the financial problems don’t stop at the doorstep of the state capital. With the federal government spending $700 billion on a Wall Street bailout, the rest of the country is feeling the pain as well, and it only compounds the problem for our state.

The desire for a high-speed rail link is a worthy goal, but one we are not prepared to pursue just yet.