California’s $68B rail project will hire the ‘disadvantaged’ — like felons and dropouts

“There’s another chapter in the high-speed fail saga, and I almost can’t do this one with a straight face,” Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, said in a recent video series in which he shares political frustrations. “What a social engineering disaster this is going to be, and add to California’s laughingstock reputation.”

What do high school dropouts, convicted felons and union apprentices have in common?

They’re all “disadvantaged” workers who — alongside veterans, former foster children and single parents — must account for at least 10 percent of the labor force behind California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project. By 2029, the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to send commuters hurtling at 200 mph between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The 800-mile system with up to 24 stations will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, but some critics — and even former proponents of the megaproject — are now questioning its viability.

Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said his biggest concern is not the unconventional workforce demand, but that the electrically-powered train system is really a “political project” aimed at fattening the wallets of well-connected unions, contractors, engineers and associated firms.

“There’s a lot of money to be made out of building this and the whole goal of high-speed rail is to make that money, to transfer money from taxpayers into the pockets of selected supporters of the Obama administration,” O’Toole told “It always comes back to politics.”


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