- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers approved legislation Monday that would require less frequent reporting by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to the state Legislature as part of a state budget package.

SB76, a bill dealing with various transportation issues, would cut the current twice-annual reports to the Legislature to once every two years. Republican lawmakers characterized it as a move away from transparency on the controversial $68 billion project.

High-speed rail spokeswoman Lisa-Marie Alley said the change will streamline the agency’s reporting, since it already compiles a comprehensive business plan updating the project in even years. The legislative reports will come in odd years.

“It’s not about being less transparent, it’s actually about being more efficient in our transparency,” Alley said.

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, said considering the cost overruns and delays on the recent San Francisco Bay Bridge project, “it’s apparent that these large infrastructure projects need more oversight, not less.”

The bill also eliminates the requirement that the California High-Speed Rail Authority provide reports on staffing and contract management, but Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said it already does that at monthly public meetings.

Both houses of the state Legislature approved a $117.5 billion spending plan Monday to meet a constitutional deadline, but they are expected to vote again on another budget when they reach agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown.

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