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California Narrowly Approves Nation's First Bullet Train

Bullet train via Shutterstock
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Lawmakers this afternoon narrowly approved billions of dollars in construction that would finance the first segment of the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line that will eventually (we hope) connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The first stretch of the line will begin in the middle of cow country the Central Valley along a 130-mile stretch between Madera and Bakersfield, according to the Associated Press. The state bill approves $2.6 billion in bonds to start work on the project. The vote today came just in time for the project to receive another $3.2 billion in federal funding.

Critics of the bill (mostly Republicans) call the project a boondoggle, pointing out that cost estimates for the project have doubled since it was presented to voters. Not all of the funding for the estimated $68 billion project has been budgeted and guaranteed ahead of time (we're hoping for more money from the feds and private funding). They say that now is not the time to start a project that we might not be able to afford later on down the line.

Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, told the San Jose Mercury News, "I believe this is a colossal fiscal train wreck for California. This is spending money we don't have. We always tell our children, you can't spend more than you take in."

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But supporters said that this project was a chance to create bold, forward-thinking infrastructure for the state. "This is a big vote," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said before lawmakers took the action. "In the era of term limits, how many chances do we have to vote for something this important and long-lasting?"