A proposed bullet train between Dallas and Houston has survived a budgeting measure that could’ve derailed the push in Texas to have the nation’s first high-speed rail line.
Budget writers on Thursday removed a Senate-inserted rider in the spending plan that said the Texas Department of Transportation couldn’t spend any state money on “subsidizing or assisting in the construction of high-speed passenger rail.”
Backers of the planned 240-mile line had said the provision would’ve effectively killed the endeavor. High-speed rail opponents, however, said they were simply trying to ensure that the state wouldn’t bail out the costly project if private funds dry up.
The two-sentence provision in the massive, $210 billion state spending plan had proved nettlesome in late-session budget negotiations, pitting rural lawmakers against those who represent Texas’ two biggest metropolitan areas.
And though the language was deleted on a 6-4 vote of the budget conference committee, it wasn’t without stern warnings from project opponents.
“We’re being sold a potential bill of goods,” said Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. “In the long term, the citizens and the taxpayers are going to be left holding the hook.”
Barring any further maneuvering in the Legislature’s final days, it appears that the high-speed rail proposal could emerge the session unscathed.
See here for the background. As you know, I approve of this. I disagree with Sen. Schwertner about the merits of the high speed rail line, but I’m willing to have that debate. I just don’t think that debate belonged in a back room with ten people and no one else.