California Budget Supports Bullet Train, Would Create New Transportation Agency

Badwater Road 178 in Death Valley National Park, CA (photo by Vlasta Juricek via Flickr)

California Governor Jerry Brown released his 2012-2013 budget yesterday -- six days earlier than planned -- after the document was accidentally posted on the state’s Department of Finance website. And yes: it still funds high-speed rail.

The proposal calls for $15.9 million in administrative support for the High-Speed Rail Authority, regardless of what happens with the current funding. The high-speed rail project is still in a review period.

This first draft of the budget estimates California’s deficit at $9.2 billion for the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1. Although that number is much lower than the $26 billion projected last year, it still means deep cuts for welfare and medical programs, the elimination of 3,000 state jobs, and the closing, consolidation and reorganization of more than 50 state agencies.

Under the new plan, transportation departments, which are currently part of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, would get their own agency. The new Transportation Agency would include the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Department of Motor Vehicles, the High‑Speed Rail Authority, the Highway Patrol, the California Transportation Commission, and the Board of Pilot Commissioners.

In terms of transportation funding, the new plan proposes transferring close to $350 million in weight fee revenues collected from commercial trucks to the General Fund to offset transportation bond debt. It also cuts $3.7 million and 41 jobs from the Division of Mass Transportation. And the plan calls for a $13.9 million increase in payments to Amtrak for current intercity rail services in Southern California, which would reduce funding available for other projects.

You can read the budget proposal here.