California's liberal Democratic governor nixes high-speed rail line due to cost

California must tackle mounting wildfire risk amid an energy transition

In his first State of the State address today, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that "there's no doubt that our state's economy and quality of life depend on improving transportation, but let's be real". The $77 billion high-speed rail line was first approved by voters in 2008, when the projected cost was $33 billion. It's about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley.

That caveat led to outrage from some critics who said Newsom should pull the plug on the entire project, which has skyrocketed in cost to more than $70 billion. The California High-Speed Rail Authority's 2018 business plan extended the project's completion another four years to 2033 with a simple $30 billion funding shortfall. This is [California's] money, allocated by Congress for this project.

Now it looks like he's scaling even that back.

"California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars", Trump wrote on Twitter. "And so I've asked my team to develop a proposal for a new data dividend for Californians, because we recognize that data has value and it belongs to you".

During his State of the State address, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday said his administration is putting a halt to the highly anticipated high-speed rail that would travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Responding to the announcement, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly said 'the Governor has called for setting a priority on getting high speed rail operating in the only region in which we have commenced construction: the Central Valley. President Barack Obama's administration did provide $3.5 billion in stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but the project otherwise saw little additional outside financial support.

An audit past year was critical of the California high-speed rail authority's decision-making and oversight of billions of dollars. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long.

The governor's emphasis of fixing issues identified in the audit was a sign for some that the governor has not ruled out finishing the project to connect the state via a bullet train. But California, which has embarked on its own Green New Deal of sorts, has seen these results: high energy and housing costs, and the nation's highest cost-adjusted poverty rate, and a society that increasingly resembles a feudal social order. It was a wholly unrealistic plan for any number of logistical reasons, as Joe Setyon explained last week.

"The project can still be achieved", Newsom told reporters after the speech.

And Newsom is no fiscal conservative. "We want that money back now". As bad as they are, those aims are at least preferable to an absurdly overpriced makework project meant to line certain people's pockets at the expense of the taxpayers.

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