With the revelation yesterday that the high-speed rail budget for the Central Valley segment jumped a whopping $2.8 billion there are no more excuses to prevent an independent audit of the rail project.
The cost for the Central Valley leg of the undertaking has jumped more than 75% from an original estimate of $6 billion to the newly revealed $10.6 billion. When voters approved state bonds to help build the venture, the total bond amount was actually under this new cost figure, less than $10 billion.
At the time of the bond vote in 2008, voters were told the entire bullet train project designed to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles was around $40 billion. That figure soon zoomed to almost $100 billion then settled back to around $64 billion.
What is the total cost to taxpayers now and how is the money being spent? An audit will tell us.
There have been previous audits of the system in 2010 and 2012. Both previous audits emphasized the risk involved in the high-speed rail undertaking.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno in November requested an emergency audit of the high-speed rail project. Al Murasutchi, Chair of the Legislative Audit Committee, rejected the emergency audit bid. Because the legislature was in recess at the time, committee chairs have the authority to request an emergency audit. Now that the legislature is back in session, Patterson intends to request an audit before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on January 30th.
There are no excuses this time. The taxpayers have a right to know how this long delayed, cost overrun project stands. An audit of the high-speed rail must go forward.