An artist's rendering of a high-speed-rail station.

An artist's rendering of a high-speed-rail station. (California High-Speed Rail Authority / July 12, 2012)

When the California Legislature works, this is one example of how it works well.

But one big caveat: We're talking about functional versus dysfunctional, leadership versus ineptitude — a system that is running smoothly rather than broken.

We're not necessarily talking about a desired policy result. Sometimes you lose. (If you're a California Republican, you usually do in Sacramento.)

First, the math: Gov. Jerry Brown and his legislative leader allies needed a majority vote in each house — 41 in the Assembly, 21 in the Senate — to spend the initial $8 billion in high-speed rail construction money ($4.7 billion in state bonds, $3.3 billion in federal grants).

All Republicans were opposed. That was no problem in the Assembly. Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) quickly rounded up all 52 Democratic votes.

Continue reading >>

--