Inflated job numbers prop up high-speed train – Press Telegram

Whenever politicians spend large sums of taxpayer money on pet projects, they always exaggerate the expected financial benefits, especially by producing large amounts of “high paying jobs.”

They all do this using the misleading assumption that if a worker is working on a project every day, it counts as “work”.

Ralph Balta Bedian, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, specializes in telling us what is really going on and what is not happening with the state’s ill-fated bullet train project, and in a recent article on its job creation. I am making a hole in the myth.

Vartabedian quotes a banner claiming to “count for 5,000 jobs” on the Fresno Shinkansen Viaduct, but reveals that the project only employs about 1,000 construction workers at a time. I go.

“Having 5,000 jobs refers to the number of workers seconded from the union hall,” he wrote. “Every time a worker is dispatched to the scene, whether it’s for a day or hundreds of days, it counts as work for the purposes of the banner.

“Railroad CEO Brian Kelly has championed worker numbers as a valid measure of progress, saying officials have been doing it for years.”

In other words, the inflated job count has been in use for years, and Kelly will have us believe that is a valid practice.

In fact, as Vartabedian found while analyzing Shinkansen data, “Hourly workers received roughly $ 265 million of the $ 6.1 billion spent on construction, which is just four. Of the total of $ 8.1 billion spent on the project, the labor share is even less, 3%. $ 265 million is less than what rail authorities spend every three months. . “

The highly inflated demand for job creation is important because the support of construction unions is one of the most important factors in keeping a project alive, despite its lack of reasonable legitimacy.

The initial vision supported by voters was a statewide high-speed north-south transportation system, but no one has come up with a plan to fund such a system, which would cost more than $ 100 billion.

The Fresno Building, called “Stonehenge” by local critics, is part of a very limited area of ​​the San Joaquin Valley, with government bonds, federal grants, and greenhouse gas permits. Funded by a portion of the auction proceeds. At the moment, it stretches from a few miles north of Fresno to a few miles north of Bakersfield.

Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the murder of the project after taking office in 2019, but stepped down under pressure from the construction union.

Newsom then said he would like to expand his current project to Merced a few miles north and Bakersfield a few miles south. I guess I will one day be able to connect to the Bay Area and Los Angeles. But it also added billions of dollars to the projected cost.

Newsam’s latest budget allocates $ 4.2 billion of bonds approved by remaining voters to advance its version of the project and mentions “potential federal funding” to fill remaining financial holes – References to the President’s ambitious infrastructure program Joe Biden.

However, Newsom’s plans are at odds with some legislative leaders who prefer to improve commuting traffic. Funding for some high-speed trains has already shifted to the electrification of Caltrain commuting services on the San Francisco Peninsula, and Southern California lawmakers led by President Anthony Rendon want a similar change in their region. ..

Commuting projects are also likely to use exaggerated job creation claims, but at least they meet real needs, not unrealistic pipe dreams.

CalMatters is a public service journalism company that aims to explain how the California State Capitol works and why it matters. For more articles by Dan Walters, visit calmatters.org/commentary.

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