Democratic California state Sen. Joe Simitian probably is best-known as the author of California’s bill to ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. After Friday’s vote, Simitian may be best-known as the Democrat who warned his colleagues not to issue $4.6 billion in bonds for big-ticket high-speed rail.
“Any of us who talk to our folks know that they’re asking the same questions,” Simitian reasoned. “They’re saying, ‘Really? You made these cuts. We’re threatened with more. And you want to build a high-speed train?’”The state Senate, nonetheless, passed the bill with 21 votes. Gov. Jerry Brown praised lawmakers for their “bold action.”
Bold or foolhardy? According to a recent Field Poll, Brown’s tax increase measure on the November ballot has the support of 54 percent of California voters. That’s a tight lead, as 21 percent of the measure’s supporters said they would be less likely to vote for Brown’s tax initiative if the Legislature began funding high-speed rail.