We'll take the money

I reported earlier today on a letter from California's two Senators, suggesting Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ship all that extra cash for high speed rail to us. A pair of newly elected GOP governors don't want it. Now, our own GOP governor has put his two cents in. In his own letter to Secretary LaHood, Governor Schwarzenegger made the case:   

Dear Mr. Secretary,  

It is with a certain sense of astonishment that we note recent announcements from some of our gubernatorial colleagues that they are uninterested in federal contributions to their high-speed rail systems.  You are more than welcome to redirect that money to California – where we know how to use it to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and provide a clean, fast and low-cost way to travel.  

In fact, we are proudly leading the nation in the planning and development of our high-speed rail system, with the strong support of our fellow Californians, the federal government and soon the private sector.  

If other states refuse your support, we would certainly welcome their shares – particularly as we continue to demonstrate how well those dollars will be spent in our great state.  

In California, we have secured a total of $4.3 billion to begin construction on the core of our system. That includes a recent $715 million in federal funding, on top of previous economic stimulus funds and state and local matches.  The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board is poised to select within a matter of weeks the location of the first section of the line.  We are set to begin construction in 2012 and begin passenger service in 2020.  In short, the progress, pace and precision of California’s project has been nothing short of remarkable.  

Californians eagerly await a high-speed rail system and, with last year’s approval of major bond funding, they have done their part to make it happen.  With a firm long-term commitment of federal funding, state matches that stretch your investment still further and the private funding such assurances will bring, we will be pleased to demonstrate to the rest of the nation the environmental and economic value of high-speed rail.  As President Obama said, “There’s no reason why the world’s best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders.”  

Sincerely,      

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger 

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