The plan to build a bullet train has so many funding uncertainties and so many other details that remain unclear that the state should delay any decision this year to commit billions of dollars to the project, the nonpartisan research branch of the Legislature recommended Tuesday.
The tough advice came on the day before two key legislative committees are to examine the plan and an accompanying request by Gov. Jerry Brown for funding to start a $6-billion construction segment in the Central Valley.
The Legislative Analyst's Office said in a 10-page report that the majority of funding for the $68-billion project "remains highly speculative.... We recommend that the Legislature not approve the Governor's various budget proposals to provide additional funding for the high-speed rail project," the report said.
The office has repeatedly warned that the state is taking on a large and unpredictable risk with the project, a conclusion echoed by the state auditor, a peer review panel and outside watchdog groups. But Brown, the Obama administration and organized labor have remained solid supporters of the project, calling it an investment in the state's future that will someday be an essential part of the transportation system.