Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

California-Finally-Scraps-High-Speed-Rail

California-Finally-Scraps-High-Speed-Rail

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers the State of the State Address at the California State Capitol, February 12, 2019.

The speech came a day after Newsom defied Trump by ordering that several hundred National Guard troops withdraw from California's border with Mexico, days after Trump announced that he had ordered 3,750 troops to the country's southern border to prepare for a "tremendous onslaught" of immigrants seeking to enter the country.

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

In addition to immigration, the governor criticized the White House on health care as "laser-focused - has been for years - on destroying the Affordable Care Act", blaming the end of the individual mandate to purchase insurance coverage for a sharp increase in premiums on California's state-run health care exchange.

His address will offer yet another opportunity for Newsom to outline his vision for California, a state dominated by Democrats, and contrast it with stalemates in Washington.

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Newsom said "we will continue our regional projects north and south", and committed to connecting the Central Valley to other parts of the state, finishing the Phase 1 environmental work which covers San Francisco to Los Angeles and Anaheim, and continuing to push for more federal and private funding.

Gavin Newsom confirmed during his State of the State address on Tuesday that he plans to scale back the state's ambitious and controversial high-speed rail project for the time being.

The cost of building the train, at last estimate, was put at $77 billion and wouldn't be completed until 2033, the Associated Press reported. The project's price tag at one point hit $99 billion. He also said he believes the construction would help stimulate the Central Valley's economy.

Despite lawsuits from property owners and taxpayer groups seeking to block it, as well as cost overruns and delays, workers are now building a stretch of the line between Merced and Bakersfield in the state's parched Central Valley farming region.

But other Republicans scorned the governor for trying to have it both ways.

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Newsom will replace Brown's appointment to the state board that manages the project. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta.

Gary Reyes/TNS/NewscomCalifornia's wasteful, expensive, and likely doomed-to-fail statewide bullet train project is getting killed. However, the section in the Central Valley will still go ahead.

He also announced that former California first lady Maria Shriver would lead a new Alzheimer's Prevention and Preparedness Task Force.

"We do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield", he said, rejecting as "wrong and offensive" any claim that this would be a 'train to nowhere'.

"Right now, there simply isn't a path" to complete the full line, said Newsom of the plan championed by his two predecessors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown. "Our collective effort must be to cross the finish line on real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta".

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He promised that this part of the project would be more transparent going forward.

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