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Governor says he will sign high-speed rail bill

SACRAMENTO — Backing off his pledge to ignore legislation until there is a state budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger says he will sign a bill aimed at improving the $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“Any measures that must be placed on the November ballot must be acted upon quickly,” the governor said in a letter dated Monday to legislative leaders. “I urge you to send me these measures that must be placed on the November ballot immediately.”

The governor specifically references four measures, but only one of them — the high-speed rail bill — has been agreed upon by lawmakers.

He also urged lawmakers to send him legislation to improve the performance of the state lottery, strengthen the state's rainy-day fund and place a water bond on the ballot. Republicans and Democrats are far from reaching deals on those proposals.

The governor had repeatedly vowed to veto any bills sent his way until lawmakers agree on a state budget, now 57 days late. He changed his mind because “the governor believes that Californians should have the opportunity to vote on these specific measures,” said his press secretary, Aaron McLear.

Both the Assembly and Senate have passed the rail bill, but the Assembly has been holdling onto the bill until the governor made a signal he would sign it.

The governor’s office expects the legislation, AB 3034, will be sent to Schwarzenegger today. Many in the Capitol beleieved the deadline to change the rail bond measure passed on Sunday. But the governor’s office thinks there are a few days left.

The current language in the rail bond measure, known as Proposition 1, prioritizes the route running from Los Angeles to San Francisco, through the Valley.

AB 3034, by Assembly Member Cathleen Galgiani, D-Tracy, replaces Prop. 1 with Prop. 1a, which opens up other segments for first-round funding — such as to Sacramento and San Diego — so long as the spending does not have an “adverse impact” on the main route. Such flexibility could give the “yes” campaign a wider voter audience, presumably making it easier to pass.

Prop. 1a also includes more fiscal oversight.

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