Back in February, when President Trump first informed California Governor Gavin Newsom that the federal government would no longer subsidize the state's high-speed rail project, no one really thought he would follow through.
But, today’s announcement from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) proves that when this president says something, he means it!
“In a letter to state officials, Administrator Ronald Batory said FRA would de-obligate the $928.6 million set aside for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) under a 2010 agreement.
“The agency will also continue to examine recouping the $2.5 billion in stimulus funds already spent on the rail program," according to a copy of Batory’s letter obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“FRA finds that CHSRA has repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 Agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the Project,” FRA said in an emailed statement.
“Additionally, California 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 agency said.
The notice came as a shock to Governor Gavin Newsome who, back in February, announced that the dream of a high-speed rail in the state was essentially “dead.”
But when President Trump followed up with a demand for a return of the federal funds “wasted” on the failed project, Newsom did a quick about-face.
“Less than one day after newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the death of the controversial high-speed rail project in his state, President Trump made a bold move on behalf of the American taxpayer, leaving Governor Newsom flabbergasted and at a loss for words. You might even say he had a $3.5 billion panic attack!
Mr. Trump went straight to Twitter and pulled no punches with Newsom and the state of California:
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
Then, after considering the President’s ultimatum, Newsom posted a statement that completely contradicts what he JUST told the voters of California:
“Despite the high cost, Newsom, a Democrat, said he wanted to complete a section of the rail line to help the Central Valley’s economy and avoid having to send $3.5 billion in federal funds back to the Trump administration."
“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to [President] Donald Trump,” Newsom said in February.
The project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, was the untouchable ‘darling’ of liberal politicians in the state., became bogged down by cost overruns, delays, and mismanagement.
State officials reported in 2018 that finishing the entire rail line could cost $77 billion.
After three months of "watching" California's progress, Department of Transportation administrators have officially determined that California violated the terms of the original agreement, thus forfeiting the right to the funding provided by the Federal Government.
As you might expect, Governor Newsom is not going down without a fight. On Thursday, he said he’s taking the matter to court.
“The Trump Administration’s action is illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project. “
It will be interesting to see how this all fleshes out. Only time will tell, but I'm putting my money on President Trump! How about you?