California State of the State

California Gov. Gavin Newsom walks up the center aisle of the Assembly Chambers to deliver his first State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature at the Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday he's abandoning a plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a project with an estimated cost that has ballooned to $77 billion.

"Let's be real," Newsom said in his first State of the State address. "The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency."

The idea championed by Newsom's predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule. The latest estimate for completion is 2033.

Newsom, though, said he wants to finish construction that's already under way on a segment of the high-speed train from Bakersfield to Merced, through California's Central Valley, arguing it will revitalize the economically depressed region.

He's also replacing Brown's head of the state board that oversees the project and pledged more accountability for contractors that run over on costs.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, said Newsom's decision to end the original project raises concerns.

"As a Central Valley representative, we should be concerned by the Governor’s attempt to recast the High Speed Rail project, which now no longer resembles what was sold to voters in 2008," Fong said in a news release. "This is a complete bait-and-switch on all Californians and Central Valley residents."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy praised Newsom’s decision to end the project.

“I’m glad to see California’s ineffective and wasteful high-speed rail project is finally arriving at its deserved destination – extinction," McCarthy said in a news release. "For years, I joined Californians across our state in urging former Governor Brown and the California State Legislature to stop this wasteful boondoggle, and I applaud that Governor Newsom has taken a prudent and objective reassessment of this project. The project has been half-baked since its inception, and Californians have been misled about the ever-growing costs at every turn."

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, said in a news release he does not believe certain Central Valley groups will benefit from the continuation of the project.

“But on the issue of high-speed rail, this new approach does not satisfy the concerns of farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley over eminent domain or secure our long-term economic prosperity by connecting us with Southern and Northern California," Cox said in a news release. "I believe that we must bring our rural and urban communities together to find transportation solutions that meet the needs of both – and this proposal fails to do that.”

Newsom also said during his speech that the state faces "hard decisions that are coming due" on clean water, housing and homelessness.

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, praised Newsom for recognizing the Central Valley.

"For too long, the Central Valley has been underrepresented and underappreciated - resulting in families who have experienced poverty-stricken conditions," she said in a news release. "However, today’s State of the State speech by Governor Gavin Newsom demonstrates his enthusiasm to collaborate across the state. I am beyond excited that he has highlighted our communities and recognizes that an investment in the Central Valley, is an investment for all of California."

Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, echoed Hurtado's sentiment.

“I am encouraged by the Governor’s focus on the Central Valley and his commitment to

investing in clean water, workforce training, housing, and ensuring the Valley receives its fair share of resources," Salas said in a news release. "Our communities have the potential to be the economic engine to push California’s economy forward."

Newsom rebuked President Donald Trump again on border security after saying Monday he will withdraw most of the state's National Guard troops from the Mexico border.

"Last week, we heard (Trump) stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values," he said. "He described a country where inequality didn't seem to be a problem, where climate change didn't exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum at the border."

Brown had agreed to deploy troops last year at the Trump administration's request, although he said they couldn't participate in immigration enforcement.

Newsom, though, said there's been a "gray area" in the troops' duties that may have allowed some to inadvertently participate in immigration activities. A Guard official said the state's troops have not helped detain anyone.

Newsom disputed Trump's claim there is a crisis on the border and said any need for National Guard troops was eliminated when Trump decided earlier this month to add 3,750 more U.S. troops at the border.

Newsom's speech also detailed his ambitious policy goals for the state.

He announced the creation of the new Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing to address what he said is a moral issue that has become a public health crisis. His administration recently sued the Orange County city of Huntington Beach, accusing it of not meeting its affordable housing goals.

The governor has invited the leaders of 47 other noncomplying cities to a meeting next week for what he called "a candid conversation."

"I don't intend to file suit against all 47, but I'm not going to preside over neglect and denial," he said during his address. "These cities need to summon the political courage to build their fair share of housing."

Newsom also promised to have a plan within 60 days for dealing with the recent bankruptcy filing by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. after years of devastating wildfires.

He said he has convened a team of the nation's best bankruptcy lawyers and financial experts from the energy sector to work with his administration to develop a strategy to protect the state's power grid, wildfire victims, company employees and ratepayers.

"We are all frustrated and angry that it's come to this," Newsom said. "PG&E didn't do enough to secure dangerous equipment or plan for the future."

He also promised to address the pressure that climate change is putting on utilities.

(12) comments

Boogerface Nutter

Finally! As a retired Santa Fe (BNSF) engineer, one would think I would have been on board with the bullet train from the start and I would have been if they had chosen a quick route from LA to SFO but no...the old route that I ran for so many years over the Tehachapis and down through Sylmar was nuts. It was the cheap route I guess. Property along the coast would have been horrendously expensive under eminent domain. Of course, not as expensive when the plan was adopted as it would be today.
The Amtrak line up the valley is one of the few that makes a profit. Sure, it takes some time to get to Oakland but it's used. Going twice as fast and stopping at fewer than half the stations up the big valley? Why?
I wrote Governor Brown, whom I supported since the 70s pledging my continued admiration but asking him to reconsider what I considered a dumbassed route and anything but high-speed travel.
One of my best friends, a high-ranked Amtrak union official, and I sparred over this regularly. He wanted more Amtrak jobs and I didn't want my tax dollars wasted on a passenger route that would not be run at a profit.
Glad Newsome has pulled the plug. Perhaps sorta-high-speed raid Bako to Merced will show a need and some value. Let's hope.

She Dee

Part of me is laughing & the other part is crying. We started the dream of the rail in the 1970's & I was hoping the ride it before I die. Another project failure due to mismanagement starting many years back. Now the valley will have a tourist attraction through the vast farmland that will someday become homes & crappy malls...yeaaaaaaaaa!

Stating the obvious

I'm highly educated/conservative but I gotta say, way to go Newsom!!!!!!!!!


Starting it senseless, finishing even more so, money better spent elsewhere.
Restoring land to what it was,impossible. Cost to operate this little used section possibly cost more than other options, just look what happening with Amtrak..
Let the ones who voted for this solve this Dilemma, without it costing us billions more.


What is the purpose of the Bakersfield to Merced train and who will it serve? Does the population of the Central Valley warrant the expense of completing this route? I've driven north on both the #5 and #99 for what it seems like forever, but there are few residential, commercial or any other type of structures, outside of a couple of dairies and an Ag farm or two. Merced population is only a tad over 83,000 so that can't be an important destination, although Fresno, over 500,000 population is on the way and could be a possibility for Bakersfield resident to find jobs, depending on the commute time. However, if this project is already well underway, wouldn't it be a waste of money to stop it?

Boogerface Nutter

You're right. When I read this, I thought it was Bako to Modesto.

Gary Crabtree

Bakersfield to Merced? It will be great for the farm workers commute. We can call it the Cesar Chavez Express.


I like California's AutoBahn, AKA I-5 . . . !
Finish the segments in place and convert to high-speed roadways.
CA has always been the "Land Of The Lamborghini" (and Corvette) . . .!
Remember the good old days of "The Drive-Away" from Detroit . . . and the most

convertibles per capita than any other state . . . ?!
BTW, just because common sense prevailed, doesn't exonerate this "Last Minute
Lawyer" . . . ! He's still 'Brainless on the Border' . . . !


I like California's AutoBahn, AKA I-5 . . . !
Finish the segments in place and convert to high-speed roadways.
CA has always been the "Land Of The Lamborghini" (and Corvette) . . .!
Remember the good old days of "The Drive-Away" from Detroit . . . and the most convertibles per capita than any other state . . . ?!


Shocker, after wasting millions of dollars, someone finally pulled their head out of their arse and realized this was a total waste of money. This project would never make a profit and the taxpayers would be stuck will the bill. What a bunch of fools to have started this boondoggle.


He was more pressed on allowing the Merced to Bakersfield train due to our worst Air Quality in the World according to him ,


No one is gojng to ride that super train and now your just competing with Amtrac ,Soon it’s gojng to need its bail out along with PGE

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