Who’s To Blame For Losing Out On Mag-Lev Funds?

A proposal to build a high speed magnetic levitation train between Southern California and Las Vegas with the help of $83 million in federal stimulus dollars suffered a major setback when the application for those funds was denied.

The political finger-pointing started quickly, with Governor Gibbons blaming Senator Reid for failing to ensure the funding and Senator Reid blaming Governor Gibbons for failing to ensure the application was submitted correctly.

However, a closer look at the denial suggests that the denial was due not to political failings, but instead to the way the Commission that applied for the funds was structured in California.  The California-Nevada Super Speed Ground Transportation Commission was established in 1987 to study and pursue a magnetic levitation rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas.  The bi-state Commission was structured as a state agency in Nevada, but the California component of the Commission was structured as a non-profit.  The use of a non-profit as part of the Commission meant the Commission was deemed ineligible to apply under federal rules, which required the application to be submitted by “states, groups of states, interstate compacts, and public agencies established by one or more states.”

On a side note, California did get $2.3 billion for intercity passenger rail programs.

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