Trump Beats California! Newsom Triggered as He Loses Battle To Keep Taxpayers $1 Billion For Failed High Speed Rail
Earlier in the year, California Governor Gavin Newsom ended the bulk of the state’s high speed rail program as it had completely failed. When he did, he promised that he would keep the remaining Federal dollars to complete a useless 170 miles of track. The President just took those dollars back.
The Federal Railroad Administration has notified California that it is ending its high speed rail agreement.
At stake is $3.5 Billion in taxpayer dollars. This move, just secured $1 Billion.
In a statement released Thursday, the Federal Railroad Administration says California has “repeatedly failed to comply” with the agreement and “failed to make reasonable progress on the project.”
It adds that the state has “abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding.” The statement also said the FRA was still exploring “all options” on getting $2.5 billion federal dollars it has already awarded for the project back from the state.
Newsom called the termination “political retribution,” illegal, and “a direct assault on California.”
“This is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court,” he said.
In February, the governor was forced to admit defeat on the controversial project.
The project’s cost and scope had long been a source of controversy. In 2018, the California High-Speed Rail Authority estimated the project’s year-of-expenditure cost at $77.3 billion and up to $98.1 billion.
“Let’s be real,” Newsom said. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long . . . Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
But he wanted to finish, a basically worthless section of the project that runs from Bakersfield to Merced in the San Joaquin Valley.
At the time, President Donald Trump demanded that the State of California return the $3.5 billion in federal funds.
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” the president tweeted. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!”
But Newsom was not going to give it back. “And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
With $1 Billion less, California is close to having to completely stop even the Bakersfield to Merced portion.
Even without the $1 Billion in federal funding that the Trump administration now says it will “deobligate,” the High-Speed Rail Authority believes it will still have enough money to complete the expanded Central Valley segment…
…as long as revenues from California’s cap-and-trade auctions perform strongly.
But as always, that scheme is expected to fail as well.
The boondoggle started in 1996 when the CHSRA was established to begin formal planning in preparation for a ballot measure in 1998 or 2000.
Finally, in 2008, California voters approved the issuance of $9 billion in bonds for high speed rail in Proposition 1A.
The timeline that ensues after that is a long story of more and more money, coming from both the California taxpayer ans well as the rest of us through the federal government.
The money was granted to California as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus, which set aside “$8 billion in federal stimulus money to create 13 high-speed rail corridors,” the New York Times reported at the time.
Obama pressured states to take the cash — which Democrat-governed states eagerly did. But the Republican wave of 2010 brought new governors to office, and several rejected their state’s high-speed rail plans as costly and unnecessary.
A state audit issued in November said California’s High‑Speed Rail Authority’s “flawed decision making and poor contract management have contributed to billions in cost overruns and delays.”
Get the popcorn, this should be fun!