The Fresno Bee has emerged as one of the state's leading media voices in support of the high speed rail project - and rightly so, since it will transform Fresno for the better. Today they wrote an editorial calling on Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines to support AB 3034 and high speed rail. Villines' support is key because AB 3034 requires a 2/3 vote, and since Democrats do not have 2/3 in either chamber, Republicans like Villines will need to vote for AB 3034 if the HSR bond on the November ballot is to be amended. Here's the key part of the Bee's editorial:
But the GOP caucuses in both the Assembly and state Senate have been curiously indifferent to the high-speed rail proposal -- if not downright antagonistic. That's troubling.
AB 3034 would rewrite the $9.95 billion November bond measure to make it more politically palatable to various factions, including the governor, Southern California voters and environmentalists. All are essential to the bond's passage.
High-speed rail would bring vast benefits to the state, but no region would be better served by the system than the Valley.
The Bee goes on to mention jobs, replacing high-cost car and airline trips, economic revitalization efforts in the Valley, and making it easier for Valley residents to travel to the rest of the state as the key reasons for backing HSR. And they rightly call out Republican "indifference" and "antagonism" to HSR.
Once upon a time not so long ago, Republicans were the party of economic growth. They promoted government efforts to help grow California business, to help the state meet its various challenges. Over the last two decades, however, the party has become a vehicle for rabidly anti-tax, anti-government folks who delude themselves into thinking that the 20th century can last forever, that California can thrive without innovating or evolving. As high fuel costs begin to cripple the state's economy, HSR and the jobs and affordable transportation it will provide become essential to California's 21st century economic fortunes. Chambers of Commerce up and down the Valley - groups that are usually solidly Republican - have lined up to endorse HSR.
AB 3034 isn't a perfect bill, and we have growing concerns about the bill's language that might compromise the core LA-SF portion of the system. While we investigate those concerns, we also believe that the concept of HSR must be supported, and unless we find anything in AB 3034 that is a poison pill, we second the Bee's call for California Republicans to join the 21st century and help build our state's future. Republicans backed the bay bridges and the massive state water project, both of which helped create the 20th century prosperity the state's been living off of until now. If that is to be renewed, HSR must be built.