Huff and Dutton

By Neil Nisperos Staff Writer
Created: 11/04/2011 10:13:19 PM PDT

From boondoggle to significant?

The man who many believe will be the next Republican leader in the state Senate has a completely different viewpoint on the state’s proposed high-speed rail plan than the current holder of that position.

Sen. Bob Huff, R-Walnut, sees the plan as critical to improving the California economy. The man he may replace as GOP leader, Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, sees the San Francisco-to-Anaheim line as simply a waste of money.

Dutton’s opposition didn’t change this week following the release of a business plan that gave a detailed look at the project and pegged its cost at nearly $100 billion over 20 years.

“Even before the first shovel of dirt has turned, the cost estimates have nearly tripled,” Dutton said.

“The high-speed rail is a boondoggle that needs to be derailed.”

Huff called the draft business plan released Tuesday a positive step in framing a larger discussion about the viability of high-speed rail.

“Every demographic model shows the state’s population continuing to grow, with no parallel investment to accommodate that growth in our transportation systems,” he said.

Huff added that improving transportation infrastructure is critical to the Golden State’s future.

“High-speed rail is poised to fill a significant part of this need, but we must proceed with a good business plan built of accurate data and assumptions,” he said.

A recent
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preliminary caucus vote indicated Huff has the necessary votes to take over as leader of the 15 state Senate Republicans. Huff is currently chairman of the caucus, or second in command to Dutton.

Jack Pitney, political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said the differing opinions of Dutton and Huff is a case in which legislators have to balance local interests and state interests.

“Bob Huff is serving the interests of his constituents who could benefit from the high-speed rail line,” Pitney said. “On the other hand, a lot of Republicans see this as a huge burden on the state. So again, every member has to balance local interests and state interests.”

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