Friday, December 19, 2008

Hey Arnold

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

The governator has a rather hypocritical op-ed in Newsweek on the importance of infrastructure to economic stimulus and recovery. Here are some quick excerpts:

America has failed to invest in its infrastructure for the past 50 years, and the bill is coming due. The situation is reminiscent of the ancient Roman Empire, which grew strong because of its advanced aqueduct system, but which fell into decline when that feat of engineering tumbled into disrepair. We're in danger of repeating that history, but it's not too late to fix the problem if we take decisive action now....

None of this makes sense in America. It doesn't make sense that in the greatest country on Earth we still rely on trains that go the same speed as they did 100 years ago, so our shipping times and commutes are longer than other countries....

In 2008 alone in California, we've committed more than $10 billion dollars in infrastructure investment, which will create at least 200,000 jobs over the life of that investment. And when our state unemployment rate has broken 8 percent, that kind of investment has a profound effect.

That last bit is a reference to Proposition 1A and high speed rail, although it'd have been nice had Arnold actually said that openly. But that's a quibble compared to the hypocrisy of this article.

Why do I say hypocrisy? I fully agree with everything I just quoted. The problem is this is another example of our governor's penchant for greenwashing - go tell the national media how awesome you are but back at home, help destroy the state.

You see, despite Arnold's claims to be an infrastructure builder, he has instead helped create a state budget crisis so severe that earlier this week the Pooled Money Investment Board voted to halt ALL infrastructure projects in California - immediately. 200,000 workers face unemployment as early as January 1.

Arnold could have avoided this had he agreed to a Democratic budget plan sent to him by the Legislature yesterday. Instead he announced his intention to veto the solution and consign the state to another indefinite deficit.

The state's bond ratings are plummeting fast, but worse, without infrastructure projects in the works, it's going to be very difficult to attract federal matching funds in Obama's emerging stimulus package. If this budget mess - for which Arnold bears the primary responsibility right now - continues then it may become difficult for us to get HSR funds from Congress in 2009. It'll become all too easy for HSR deniers to argue we don't deserve or can't even use the matching funds.

Arnold's hypocrisy knows no bounds.


bgfa said...

Arnold is the worst governor this state has ever had. I never understood why the media fawns over the "environmental governor" BS when he has been nothing but an obstructionist when it comes to the environment, and has created a bigger financial mess than Gray Davis ever did.

Unknown said...

Someday a CDROM copy of the entire history of this blog and the peninsula blog should be submitted to CHSR as a public comment. Maybe they can assign a staff person to read through as there have been many excellent issues raised and discussed. I would just like to hear an official response from CHSR to these blogs. At a minimum that they are taking the discussions under consideration and better if they would respond to some of the key issues.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Members of the CHSRA staff and board do read this site. However as public employees they're not always able to comment publicly on some issues we discuss here.

We have opportunities other than the blog to influence the CHSRA, including public meetings. I'm going to try and be more proactive on that front.

bgfa said...

Robert, I also hope that the responses that you post here to various newspaper articles are also sent to the newspapers as letters to the editor. No reason not to let them in on it too.

Rafael said...

So just out of curiosity: how bad does the budget mess have to get before the governator can be recalled?

Democrats have found a way to work around the 2/3 rule on the budget. The logic is very tortured, but that's just because that rule is so idiotic to begin with.

Politically, the net net would be more expensive gasoline, diesel and oil extraction in California, plus 1/4 percent county-level sales tax hikes plus cuts in social services. None of this would be popular, but raising taxes and/or cutting spending is the only way to balance a budget. For the good of the state, Arnold needs to break with his fellow Republicans.

On top of the measures already suggested, serious consideration should be given to relaxing the three strikes law, which is threatening to eat the California budget alive. With 170,000 inmates sharing 100,000 cells, it's just a question of time before there are serious riots and/or a federal judge condemns the state to building more prisons it cannot afford.

Unknown said...

Maybe the shortest serving worst offenders get a prison cell and when all the cells are full, the longest serving least offenders are let go a few days, weeks, months, years early as a matter of policy. This has already happened as a last resort. Kind of a revolving door prison system. Then California could keep the same number of cells or build more depending on their comfort level of letting prisoners go. Money to build prisons competes with money to hire police, build libraries, repair levies, and lay HSR tracks.