California is in dire need of federal funds to keep its high-speed rail dream alive. But a Midwestern senator is standing athwart the “gravy train” yelling stop.
Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst recently introduced the Put the Brakes on Boondoggles Act, a to-the-point bill to withhold federal aid from transit construction debacles. If enacted, the legislation would block the secretary of Transportation from funding transit or rail lines if “the overall cost projection to complete the project exceeds the original cost projection by at least” $1 billion, and “the operational and administrative costs of the service provided by the project are projected to exceed the revenues generated from ridership annually over the next decade.”
California’s high-speed rail, which so far is more blank than bullet, neatly fits the description – almost as if it were the primary target. It is $95 billion over budget, having been approved in 2008 at a cost of $33 billion by voters and now projected to cost $127.9 billion based on the latest estimates. Ernst hopes to “put an end to these shady accounting practices by forcing truth in pricing.”