Newsom to scale back struggling high speed rail, twin tunnels projects Los Angeles Times

Newsom to scale back struggling high speed rail, twin tunnels projects   Los Angeles Times


Newsom to scale back struggling high speed rail, twin tunnels projects Los Angeles Times Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in his State of the State speech Tuesday that he intends to scale back Californias dollar 77 billion high speed rail system, saying that while the state has “the capacity to complete a high speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield there simply isnt a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.” In another break from his predecessor, Jerry Brown, the governor also announced in his speech that he will downsize the San Joaquin Sacramento River Delta twin tunnels project to one tunnel. While he hit the breaks on the bullet train, the Democratic governor said he still supports finishing the Central Valley portion of the project. But lets be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long, Newsom said. Theres been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Newsom reiterated his steadfast opposition to the dictates of President Trump on immigration, climate change and other critical issues where the state and federal government are at odds. That was starkly apparent in Trumps State of the Union speech last week, he said. He described a country where inequality doesnt seem to be a problem, where climate change doesnt exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum, Newsom said. State of the State speeches typically provide governors an opportunity to lay out their ambitious policy agendas and wish lists for the year ahead, and Newsom did not squander that opportunity. He offered his audience, a joint session of the Assembly and Senate at the state Capitol, few details of how he hoped to deliver on his many of his far reaching initiatives. The tough calls we must make together on rail, water and energy. How we protect migrants, care for seniors, and help the homeless, and how we will tackle the affordability crisis that is coming to define life in this state. I wont pretend to have all the answers. But the only way to find them is to face these issues honestly. One of the main precepts of Newsoms short time in office has been to directly challenge the hard line policies of the Republican president, taking particular aim at a Trump administration immigration policy that the governor sees as anathema to the interests of a state where 27 percent of the population is foreign born. In his speech, Newsom was expected to say that the presidents anti immigrant rhetoric rippled through California decades ago with Propositions 187 and 227, requiring English only public schools and banning immigrants in the U.S. illegally from government assistance and services, only to be struck down by the courts or later repealed.. We repealed and healed, Newsom will say, according to excerpts of his speech. A quarter of a century later, were more united than ever, and were not going back. On Monday, Newsom ordered the removal of roughly 360 California National Guard members who had been stationed at the U.S Mexico border for the last year, deployed by Brown at the request of the Trump administration. I think this whole border issue is manufactured; the crisis on the border is a manufactured crisis, Newsom said Monday, noting that border crossings are at their lowest level since 1971. We are not interested in participating in this political theater. On his first day in office, Newsom also took a swipe at Trump by announcing plans for an expansion of Medi Cal to cover young immigrants in the U.S. illegally and to require consumers in the state to carry health insurance, a mandate in the federal Affordable Care Act that was nixed in 2017 by the Trump administration and a Republican led Congress. Newsom has already shown himself to be ambitious and measured and has dispelled concerns that he lacked the political maturity to resist overspending or immediately launch ill conceived, massive new government programs, said San Jose State political scientist Melinda Jackson. I think he got to a strong start and I kind of feel like this is a golden moment for him. Everything is coming together, Jackson said. He seems to be moving toward an expanded safety net in California. I see this as California kind of becoming not just the resistance to Trump but an alternative. Newsoms address on Tuesday is a reminder of how much the states finances have recovered from the Great Recession, an era of seemingly insurmountable deficits and a tattered safety net for Californians flattened by the economic downturn. The pragmatism of the last eight years under Brown, who steered Californias economic recovery, has been replaced with a progressive idealism of an ambitious governor who had the good political fortune of inheriting billions in surplus. Newsom quickly showed he was not shy about spending that money. His dollar 209 billion budget proposal, released in January, includes dollar 1.8 billion to boost Californias enrollment in early education and child care programs, dollar 500 million to help local governments build shelters and add services to help the homeless, a dollar 1 billion “working families tax credit,” and dollar 1.3 billion for a new effort to build more homes and apartment units in a state starved for affordable housing. During his first month in office, Newsom also launched a strike team to overhaul the problem plagued Department of Motor Vehicles and called on state lawmakers to beef up a California Department of Justice unit responsible for enforcing laws on gun sales. He announced a goal to ensure that parents of newborns or newly adopted babies receive six months of paid leave, and he vowed to wrest control of the states Juvenile Justice Division away from corrections officials and have it run by government health and human services providers.

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