Today is one of the biggest events of the year at the State Capitol – the Governor’s State of the State Address.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor, it was literally a circus. the entire lawn of the Capitol was literally filled with dozens of satellite trucks. There were so many reporters covering the speech that a giant tent had to be set up outside the Capitol for reporters to do interviews with legislators and administration officials.
Nowadays, I am reminded of B.B. King’s classic song, “The Thrill is Gone” when thinking about the State of the State. Today, there will be more reporters at the Capitol than on a regular Thursday, but the press coverage will pale in comparison with years past.
One year, I indirectly became part of the State of the State. Every year, I worked on the “Republican Response”, usually a taped speech by the Republican Leaders that aired immediately after.
Unfortunately, the tape of the speech was leaked early. Governor Brown included a few good-natured ribs talking about our clairvoyance in responding to the speech before he gave it. I was rather annoyed by a great speech going to waste, but it turns out that I was clairvoyant as everything I wrote was a spot-on response to his speech.
Since I’m no longer promoting what others have to say about the State of the State, here’s my two-cents about the State of the State.
Governor Brown has an unhealthy obsession with High-Speed Rail. Putting my clairvoyant skills to work, I’m sure he’ll promote it again in this year’s speech.
My former boss Connie Conway used to call it, “The Little Engine that Could.” Just last week, we learned from the High-Speed Rail Authority that cost estimates for the bullet train’s first section now under development in the Central Valley have spiked by $2.8 billion! Roy Hill of the consulting firm WSP, told the High-Speed Rail Authority that, “the worst-case scenario has happened.”
But Governor Brown has blinders on when it comes to criticism of the High-Speed Rail, its lack of private investment, and significant financial uncertainty.
The state of our state’s transportation infrastructure would be a lot stronger if Governor Brown leveled with Californians that the High-Speed Rail is a mess, and should go back to the drawing board. An even better idea would be to cancel it altogether and ask the voters to redirect the High-Speed Rail bond funds for our other critical transportation and infrastructure needs.
Unfortunately, that’s not something that you’re likely to hear from the Governor in his speech today.
Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.