For decades now the California bullet train has been the thorn in the sides of what few conservatives actually live in the liberal bastion of the West. And with cost estimates starting at $65 billion, and ranging to well over $100 billion, or about $7,800 per California household, it’s no wonder that fiscally responsible folks would be a bit reluctant to spend so much money on a service few will ever use and could threaten the solvency of their state as a whole.
Be that as it may, seemingly no impediment, financial or otherwise, will stop Jerry Brown from wasting billions of California taxpayers’ dollars in pursuit of his pet project. Which is why it should come as little surprise that Brown has elected to proceed with a $1.25 billion general obligation bond sale today despite Trump’s threats to withhold federal funding for the project, a move which casts substantial doubts over the financial feasibility of the project as a whole. Per Bloomberg:
California isn’t letting litigation or Donald Trump stand in the way of one of the most expensive and controversial projects in the U.S.
The state on Thursday plans to sell $1.25 billion in taxable bonds to finance a $64 billion high-speed rail system, the first debt issue for construction since voters approved it nearly a decade ago. The offering marks a show of faith from officials that the project will proceed despite a lawsuit from a county and farmer opposed to it and roadblocks from the Trump administration, which has delayed a grant that would have benefited the bullet train running from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area.
The general-obligation debt, backed by California’s full faith and credit, isn’t dependent on the success of the project, the first publicly financed U.S. high-speed rail line. Lack of federal support would push more of the burden on California to finance the project, which Democratic Governor Jerry Brown says will transform the traffic-choked state by increasing access to affordable housing and boosting local economies.
Of course, according to Brown, California can “well afford” a $100 billion capital project…
“California can well afford it, and it will make our state a much better place. I know we’re going up against a very red tide here of opposition. This thing is a long-term project, and one way or another we’re going to get it.”
Meanwhile, California bondholders either don’t believe the bullet train will ever be completed, an eventuality that would undoubtedly push the state to the brink of bankruptcy, or simply don’t care.