Photo Credit: High Speed Rail Authority

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state appellate court on Thursday overturned two lower court rulings that had stalled funding for California's $68 billion bullet train, handing a big win to Gov. Jerry Brown's signature project and allowing the state to resume selling bonds to pay for it.

The court overturned rulings by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny last year in which he said the high-speed rail project no longer complies with the promises made to voters in 2008 when they approved selling nearly $10 billion in bonds. In siding with Kings County and Central Valley landowners, Kenny invalidated the sale of $8.6 billion in state bonds and ordered the California High-Speed Rail Authority to write a new funding plan.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs had argued that the state failed to identify all the funding for the first full segment of the rail line in the Central Valley, a cost of about $26 billion, and instead had found just $6 billion to pay for construction. They also argued the state did not have all the necessary environmental clearances as voters were promised.

But the three-judge panel said it was up to the Legislature to decide if there was enough detail in the draft funding plan lawmakers received before they approved the first phase of the planned 800-mile rail line in 2012. That allowed the state to begin selling bonds for construction of the first 130-mile stretch and tap $3.3 billion in federal matching funds.

The judges also urged that deference should be given to a state finance committee that considers state bond sales, saying they could not find any legal precedent for "the trial court's highly unusual scrutiny of the finance committee's determination that it is 'necessary or desirable' to grant the authority's request to authorize the issuance of the bonds."

Dan Richard, chairman of the board that oversees high-speed rail, said officials are committed to "building a modern high-speed rail system that will connect the state, precisely as the voters called for when they passed Proposition 1A."

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