Newsom pulls plug on high-speed rail project

Elevated section of high-speed rail under construction in Fresno Calif. in December 2017. Rich Pedroncelli  AP file

"I want to thank President Trump for calling attention to prescription drug prices last week in his State of the Union", Newsom said, noting he's ordered his administration to begin working toward a single-purchasing system that he argues will cut costs.

Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday he is pulling the plug on the state's massive high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco that was more than a decade behind schedule and billions in the red.

And in a tweet, the governor's chief of staff, Ann O'Leary, said Newsom "fully committed to high speed rail as part of All in California economic transformation, and clean energy future". "But let's be real. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency".

Specifically, the governor proposed delaying construction of a train connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco - let alone the larger goal of Sacramento to San Diego - and instead focus on a route between the smaller Central Valley cities of Bakersfield and Merced. "I wish there were".

Newsom said the state will finish environmental reviews from San Francisco to Los Angeles, "connect the revitalized Central Valley to other parts of the state, and continue to push for more federal funding and private dollars". The main reason: if the project was canceled the state would have to return $3.5 billion from the federal government. The state finally broke ground in 2015 on a 119-mile segment between Madera and Bakersfield, but the project has lost popularity and become a growing political target as it blows through deadlines and budgets.

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 Governor's office later clarified that Newsom was still fully committed to building a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite there not now being a path to do so.

He also announced that former California first lady Maria Shriver would lead a new Alzheimer's Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. A document posted online fleshing out elements of the so-called Green New Deal suggests Democrats are looking to "b$3 uild out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary".

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

California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his decision to withdraw most of the National Guard troops from the nation's southern border and changing their mission, during a Capitol news conference Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Maj.

Newsom, though, said there's been a "gray area" in the troops' duties that may have allowed some to inadvertently participate in immigration activities.

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

But Newsom's speech went beyond immigration and other disagreements with the White House to his own ambitious policy goals for the state.

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