It's been clear for some time that California would have to find another way to pay for its high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Federal funding dried up after the 2010 midterm elections, when conservative opposition overwhelmed President Obama's national high-speed rail plan. When a court questioned the project's funding plan last fall, many observers felt California would need to put up even more of its own money.
Now it's done just that. The state's new budget secures high-speed rail 25 percent of California cap-and-trade revenue each year moving forward — revenue described by the Sacramento Bee as "money polluters pay to offset carbon emissions." Reports estimate the deal could eventually deliver between $3 billion and $5 billion in annual funding to the country's most ambitious transportation project.