Legal

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 02/01/14, 11:25 AM PST |

Two lower court rulings that have tied the proposed $68 billion high-speed rail train in red tape may snag other public works projects for roads and schools, according to the state Department of Finance.

“If left to stand, these lower court rulings would not only prevent the state from proceeding quickly to build high-speed rail as the Legislature and voters intended. They could also inject unwarranted uncertainty into the state’s ability to sell voter approved bonds in a timely manner to finance public works projects,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the department in a court document filed earlier this week.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Department of Finance is running full tilt at the two trial court rulings that have blocked the state from selling $8.6 billion in bonds as authorized by the voters in 2008’s Proposition 1A and revoked the state’s funding plan for the first 300 miles of the proposed 520-mile Los Angeles to San Francisco bullet train.

The High Speed Rail Authority and the state filed a 49-page petition late Wednesday arguing the ruling on bond validation is overly broad. The state asked for the California Supreme Court to take up the case but it refused. Instead, it expedited an an appellate court review. Arguments from the plaintiffs are due by Monday and the state will have a week to respond.

Deputy Superintendent Art Revueltas of the Montebello Unified School District said the court rulings may expose school district building projects to last-minute challenges.

Normally, schools that use voter-approved bonds to fix up classroom buildings or add swimming pools and science labs, may face a legal challenge at the beginning of the process, when it goes through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The judges in Sacramento County have opened up a Pandora’s box, enabling challenges to the sale of bonds, something that comes at the end of a long process, he said.

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