Tag Archives: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Proposition 53 Has Implications for California High-Speed Rail

Proposition 53 Has Implications for California High-Speed Rail

Governor Jerry Brown and his political allies, led by construction trade unions, have ramped up a major campaign to defeat Proposition 53. This statewide ballot measure could jeopardize future funding prospects for California High-Speed Rail.

Proposition 53, also known as the “No Blank Checks Initiative” would require voter approval for the State of California to sell a total of more than $2 billion worth of revenue bonds for a project. Unlike “general obligation bonds,” which are repaid (with interest) through state income and sales taxes, revenue bonds are repaid (with interest) through fees, fares, tolls, or other payments for services.

The Delta farmer who funded the placement of Proposition 53 on the ballot and is funding the campaign to pass it was mainly inspired by a desire to stop Governor Brown’s controversial “Delta Tunnels” project. But Proposition 53 could also hinder future efforts by the State of California to borrow money for California High-Speed Rail construction and operation.

Voters fed up with the continuing expenses for high-speed rail could potentially reject the sale of revenue bonds and cut off a source of state funding. An effective opposition argument to the sale of revenue bonds for California High-Speed Rail would probably focus on the exaggerated projections of ridership and fare revenue for the high-speed passenger train system.

California High-Speed Rail is frequently mentioned in the news media as a project that could be jeopardized if Proposition 53 passes on November 8. For example, the October 14, 2016 San Francisco Chronicle article about Proposition 53 was titled “Prop. 53 Could Bring Big Projects to a Halt” and featured a frequently-published photo of CCHSRA allies Kevin Dayton and his daughter picketing at the high-speed rail groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno in January 2015.

Besides the farmer who is paying for the Proposition 53 campaign, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – an ally of CCHSRA – is the main organization supporting it. The argument in favor of Proposition 53 cites California High-Speed Rail as a reason to vote for it:

Proposition 53 will STOP POLITICIANS FROM ISSUING BLANK CHECK DEBT to complete billion dollar state boondoggles. Take California’s bullet train. They told us it would cost California taxpayers $10 billion. Now we know it’s going to cost more than $60 billion! Yet, you don’t have a right to vote on that huge increase!

Leading opponents of Proposition 53 are construction trade unions, which have a monopoly on construction of the California High-Speed Rail system through a Project Labor Agreement. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; the Carpenters, Laborers, Ironworkers, and Operating Engineers unions; and the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Trust have been top funders of the campaign to defeat Proposition 53.

The rebuttal to the argument against Proposition 53 in the California Official Voter Guide states that opponents “include insiders who profit from massive state revenue bond projects, and politicians and bureaucrats who don’t trust you to decide whether to approve boondoggles like the $64 billion bullet train…” Some people would declare that to be an accurate depiction of the chief backers of California High-Speed Rail.

For More Information:

California General Election November 8, 2016 Official Voter Information Guide – Proposition 53

Proposition 53 Donors – For and Against

High-Speed Rail Opponents Seek California Supreme Court Review – Press Conference on September 2 in San Francisco

HIGH-SPEED RAIL OPPONENTS SEEK CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT REVIEW

Attorneys challenging the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s bond funding will hold a press conference on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 to explain the petitions they are filing with the California Supreme Court. Michael Brady and Stuart Flashman, representing John Tos, Aaron Fukuda and Kings County, will offer copies of the Petition for Review they plan to file that morning.

Here’s the location, time, and date of the press conference:

Sidewalk in front of the California Supreme Court Building
350 McAllister Street, San Francisco
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

In addition, Harold Johnson of the Pacific Legal Foundation will discuss the petition he will be filing on behalf of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association will also be represented at the press conference, barring scheduling difficulties.

The petitions ask the Supreme Court to review the Third District Court of Appeal decision overturning two trial rulings that had hamstrung Californiaʼs High-Speed Rail project. The Appellate Court ruled that “The Legislature appropriated the bond proceeds based on the preliminary funding plan, however deficient, and there is no present duty to redo the plan.”

The Court also held that no evidence was needed to show that it was “necessary or desirable” to issue bonds, reversing the trial court ruling that had prevented the sale of bonds and effectively erasing that provision from the ballot measure. Plaintiff’s lead counsel, Michael Brady, says “The Authority is now on life support; it has been granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal. This filing seeks to lift that stay.”

Stuart Flashman, co-counsel adds, “The Court of Appeal ruling overturns longstanding precedents in the interpretation of bond measures. If these decisions stand, voters will lose trust in future bond measures.”

Harold Johnson of the Pacific Legal Foundation says “The High Speed Rail project must be fully transparent and fully faithful to the law. Evading accountability can’t be allowed on one of the most expensive public works projects in U.S. history.”

The Tos Petition for Review will be available on the morning of September 2, at the bottom of the TRANSDEF web page, along with all documents from these two cases. Three other claims in the Tos case are still pending in the trial court.

You can also read the court decision and the petition for review at these links:

September 1, 2014 Tos / Fukuda / Kings County Petition to California Supreme Court for Review of California High-Speed Rail Decisions

July 31, 2014 California Appeals Court Decision in Favor of California High-Speed Rail Authority

Background

The Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority case was brought by a farmer, a rural homeowner and Kings County. It asked the Court to block the Authority from using bond funds because the project failed to meet the ballot measureʼs requirements.

In November 2013, Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the High-Speed Rail Authorityʼs Funding Plan failed to properly certify, as the bond measure required, that all needed environmental clearances had been obtained and that sufficient funding was available to complete the Merced-to-San-Fernando-Valley segment of the project.

In California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. All Persons Interested et al., Judge Kennyʼs ruling blocked the issuance of bonds because of another failure to satisfy bond measure requirements.

For more information, please visit us at http://www.cchsra.org and/or contact Shelli Andranigian at andranigianmedia7@att.net. Thank you.

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May 23 Is Date for Oral Arguments: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County

The 3rd Appellate District Court for the State of California announced on April 28 that oral arguments in California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County are scheduled for Friday, May 23.

This is the case which started when California Governor Jerry Brown, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority asked the California Supreme Court under an extraordinary petition to allow the state to issue (sell) Proposition 1A bonds to fund California High-Speed Rail. (In October 2013, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge had blocked the sale of the bonds through two decisions ruling that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has failed to comply with Prop 1A.) The California Supreme Court wasn’t impressed: it sent the Governor’s petition to the appeals court where it belonged.

Track the case at this link: California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County – Case Number C075668

Supporting the Rule of Law:

Members of Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA)
County of Kings
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
County of Kern
Eugene Voiland
Kings County Water District
Union Pacific Railroad Company
First Free Will Baptist Church in Bakersfield

Supporting Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
San Mateo County Transit District
Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
City and County of San Francisco
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO
Cathleen Galgiani, member of the California State Legislature
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Southern California Association of Governments