SACRAMENTO -- Hours before a critical vote today on California's high-speed rail project, Democratic legislative leaders weren't certain they could line up enough Senate votes to approve it.
They were working on the members one by one: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office distributed a chart demonstrating the potential value of the project to various senators, including miles of track and funding for other, regional transportation projects in their districts.
Rail officials said Thursday that if the funding measure fails, the $68 billion project is effectively dead.
"This is the time when California decides, 'Do we want to move forward with this rail modernization or don't we?' " Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board, told reporters at the Capitol.
The state Assembly on Thursday voted to approve initial funding for the project, setting up the Senate vote today.
With no Republican senator expected to support the measure, it will require the votes of 21 of 25 Senate Democrats.
Today's session, expected to be the last before the Legislature adjourns until Aug. 6, is expected to start at 1 p.m. and include many votes besides the one on high-speed rail.
Read the full story and get a link to Dan Walters' commentary at sacbee.com.