Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is seeking to open an emergency audit to reveal hidden or downplayed expenditures on the California High-Speed Rail Project.
Patterson wants to investigate potential mishandling/reporting of funds managed by the High-Speed Railway Authority (HSRA). He's also looking to start gathering information on possible backup plans if public/private funds for the project fall through.
Approval is needed from just four individuals for the emergency audit to begin: the Chair and Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Legislative Authority (JCLA), fellow Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside).
The issue of the HSRA's overspending came to the forefront last September when the LA Times reported that the High-Speed Rail Project is $1.7 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule on its first segment running through the Central Valley. Assemblyman Patterson said in a press release:
“Whether you think it’s a good or bad idea – this project is ripping up Central California and destroying productive farmland. We owe it to the people to demonstrate that the HSRA isn’t going to skip town and leave us with a partially built track that ends in a field outside Shafter. Californians deserve to know what Plan B is – it’s time for a reality check.”
Patterson is seeking answers to the following five questions from the HSRA:
- What are the Authority’s demonstrable policies, practices, and personnel to generate reliable budget estimates for ongoing construction contracts?
- What are the Authority’s demonstrable contract management policies in place to contain costs?
- What are the Authority’s demonstrable systems and practices in place for tracking and reviewing invoices?
- What are the Authority’s demonstrable practices in negotiating and approving change orders? Are they consistent with best practices and do they protect the best use of public funds?
- What is the Authority’s contingency plan if projected private and public funding does not meet the Authority’s projections? What is the Authority’s plan if the money received is less than what is necessary to deliver the high-speed rail project as described in Proposition 1A?
Assemblyman Patterson joined us on the show to talk about the emergency audit:
Assemblyman Patterson (R-Fresno) represents the 23rd Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes communities in Fresno and Tulare County.