- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget includes a provision for a $29 million loan from the state to California’s bullet train agency, according to a newspaper report.

The little-noticed item in the budget plan would help keep the rail project moving ahead as uncertainty grows about the availability of future funding, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday (https://lat.ms/1bkr1S2 )

The loan to the High-Speed Rail Authority would come from state transportation project accounts. It follows a similar $26 million advance last year from general government revenues, which prompted some lawmakers to complain that such lending would take money from other high-priority projects.

The Los Angeles-to-San Francisco rail project is mired in legal challenges.

At a state Senate hearing last year, rail officials assured lawmakers the state would prevail against lawsuits and be able to repay the loan from $9 billion in voter-approved bonds designated for the project. But a Sacramento judge recently blocked access to that money after finding the rail agency failed to comply with legal restrictions on the bonds.

In addition to the new $29 million loan, the governor is asking for approval to direct $250 million from levies on greenhouse gases generated by businesses to the rail project.

A key project supporter, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has raised questions about the governor’s bullet train financing proposal. Steinberg hasn’t indicated whether he will back the latest proposed loan, the Times reported.

The High-Speed Rail Authority declined to comment on the loan and how it would be used.

Rail officials hope to break ground on the first 29-mile segment of track in the Central Valley this summer.


Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com

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