The state of California wants the rest of America to pay for their high-speed rail boondoggle and they’re willing to sue Washington to get it.
Recently, the Trump administration canceled a $1 billion federal grant to the state that would have helped fund the high-speed rail project so beloved by California politicians. But Governor Gavin Newsom says that the cancellation had more to do with politics than anything else. The suit claims the feds nixed the grant due to “political retribution” for the state’s opposition to border wall funding. The state will also file a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the government from spending the money in anything else — including, Trump’s border wall.
The Federal Railroad Administration basically says that’s ludicrous.
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” to get back $2.5 billion in federal funds it had already awarded for the project from the state.
One of the major reasons California got the grant in the first place was to build an LA-San Francisco rail line — a project that has been all but abandoned due to massive cost overruns and intolerable delays.
Newsom’s attempt to accuse the administration of political revenge isn’t going to work. He has much bigger problems with the project.
It’s not the federal withholding of funds that will doom this project; it’s the decade of lies and deception from Gov. Jerry Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority. They continued pushing ahead knowing full well that there was no sign of the private investment so critical to making the project pencil out.
If the governor is serious about protecting the state’s green infrastructure, he should focus on bolstering the commuter rail lines within the state’s urban cores, rather than going to the mat for a sprawl-inducing bullet train.
As for his concerns about workers who will lose jobs, that ignores that the federal funds will produce employment opportunities wherever it’s spent. The administration has a responsibility to spend the money for the best projects across the nation, not the ones that bolster jobs in this state.
Which seems obvious except for California’s arrogant assumption that the nation’s taxpayers should be required to support every white elephant that the state’s politicians can dream up.
Whining about being singled out for political retribution won’t help their case. In fact, If I were Newsom, I’d start thinking about a strategy to prevent Washington from recovering the other $2.5 billion of federal dollars that California politicians wasted on the project.