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Initiative Shifts High-Speed Rail Bonds To Water Projects

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Location of a proposed reservoir area.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Two Republican elected officials have submitted a 2016 ballot measure that would shift $8 billion in unspent high-speed rail bond funds to water storage projects.

The initiative by Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) and Board of Equalization member George Runner is a direct challenge to the high-speed rail project championed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Huff says he supported the high-speed rail bonds approved by voters in 2008 – but that’s not the project getting built now.

“It’s a lot more expensive, it’s gonna take a lot more taxpayer money to build it, and it’s not high-speed. And instead, we’re building this thing where nobody wants it and it’s been very divisive,“ Huff says. “So I believe the voters would agree, let’s take this money and put it somewhere where we actually know there’s an infrastructure need, and that’s water.”

The measure would put a newly-created board appointed by regional water agencies in charge of spending the money – as well as another $2.7 billion already set aside for storage projects in the water bond California voters approved last year.

A separate initiative has already qualified for the ballot that challenges the governor’s other big infrastructure project – two water delivery tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Brown’s office has said he “strongly opposes” that initiative.

The governor has $20 million in his campaign account that he could use to fight these ballot measures.

 Election 2016

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio