Gavin Newsom Proposes Billions for Doomed California High-Speed Rail

gavin newsom
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed spending billions to continue building the California High-speed Rail Project to connect rural areas in the Central Valley.

In a statement Thursday on his “California Blueprint” for a”clean infrastructure” in the state, Newsom declared:

The California Blueprint includes a proposed $9.1 billion package to advance clean transit initiatives that support the state’s climate and public health goals, promote equity and bolster the green economy, including $4.9 billion for transit and rail projects to improve connectivity, climate adaptation, bicycle and pedestrian safety and more locally driven initiatives. In addition, the Blueprint proposes a $4.2 billion investment in California’s High-Speed Rail project, which will eventually share the electrified Caltrain corridor, as well as funding for projects that encourage active modes of transportation and improve equity and safety, including converting underutilized highways into corridors that better serve residents. The Blueprint positions California to take advantage of additional federal infrastructure investments.

The Caltrain corridor is a commuter system in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. At no point did Newsom propose renewing the plan to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles un under three hours, the project’s founding goal.

The San Jose Mercury News reported:

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest budget proposal doubles down on billions of dollars in contentious funding for the San Joaquin Valley segment of the high-speed rail project and expands the state’s initiative to replace gas-powered vehicles with zero-emission.

The latest figures are part of the governor’s $286.4-billion spending proposal released earlier this week – with $9.1 billion going towards transportation infrastructure – which the governor says is part of the state’s concerted effort to reduce California’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The budget proposal functions as a wish list as the governor enters into negotiations with lawmakers ahead of a June deadline for the 2022-2023 budget.

But the proposed $4.2 billion in high-speed rail funding has been mired in controversy. It is the final tranche of $9.9 billion in bond funds for the high-speed rail, which voters approved in 2008’s Proposition 1A on the promise that they would see a bullet train connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes. At the moment, that’s not what voters are getting.

Instead, Newsom is seeking to secure the $4.2 billion to finish a 119-mile segment in Fresno, Kern, Madera, and Kings counties, even as some Democrats say the funding should be used for projects aimed at urban centers in the Bay Area and Southern California, not a less-populated stretch of the Central Valley.

In 2019, in his first address as governor to the state legislature, Newsom canceled the original plan for the project to link San Francisco and Los Angeles, declaring that it “would cost too much and take too long.” But he wanted to persist with the first part of the project, in the sparsely populated Central Valley.

Then-President Donald Trump promptly canceled nearly $1 billion in federal funding that was to have gone to the project, saying that California no longer intended to deliver on the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers had already paid to the state for high-speed rail under President Barack Obama’s 2009 “stimulus”  and administered by then-Vice President Joe Biden.

President Biden restored that funding to the state in 2021, with the support of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. But there is still no hope to connect California’s two big cities.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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