California governor accuses Trump of retribution

California governor accuses Trump of retribution

Kerry Wise
February 21, 2019

It can take the money back, for example, if the grantee fails to make "adequate progress" or "fails to complete the project or one of its tasks" or if the state doesn't meet its matching fund requirements.

For starters, The New York Times reports, "the Trump administration also said it was terminating a $929 million federal grant to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, according to a letter the Transportation Department sent Tuesday", almost zeroing out the federal government's contribution to California's statewide high speed rail projects for the 2019 fiscal year.

"The moves come a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom said during his state of the state address, that the high-speed railway project as now planned, would cost too much and take too long".

Hours later, the U.S. Department of Transportation told California it planned to cancel almost $1 billion in federal money allocated to the rail project and wanted the state to return $2.5 billion it had already spent.

In addition, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday: "State financial experts on Tuesday reported fiscal year-to-date revenues are more than $2.3 billion below the expectations set by Newsom's first spending plan". "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".

Newsom on Tuesday vowed to block the move, arguing that it was political payback by the Trump administration. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won't sit idly by.

This came after Trump declared a national emergency on the USA border after Congress refused to fund a proposed wall on the Mexican border and ordered money diverted from other projects to fund the barrier.

The train project has faced repeated cost overruns and delays since California voters approved it in 2008.

In the tweet, Trump said he predicted that the lawsuit would have been filed by California, "the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion". The department notified the state of its decision in a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority that it published on its website late on Tuesday.

Additionally, the letter pointed out that the project would not have been completed by 2022, when the state agreed to complete the work.

"Governor Newsom presented a new proposal that represents a significant retreat from the State's initial vision and commitment and frustrates the goal for which Federal funding was awarded", read the letter outlining the case for cancelling the money. "The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long".

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"Right now there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.", he said.

An elevated section of the high-speed rail under construction in Fresno, California.

The elected officials came from local governments that - like Huntington Beach - the state says aren't following California's housing supply law.

The project, which was supported by Newsom's predecessor Gov.

As the Associated Press reports, the $929 million that Trump is threatening to cancel was approved by Congress almost a decade ago. The possibility of ordering a refund of the $2.5 billion grant that is already being spent is even a bigger legal uncertainty.

The federal action to terminate the grant wades into uncharted legal territory. "We will see you in court". "They are setting up a big fight".

If the federal government decides to take the money back, it doesn't have to wait for California to write a check.

Although the federal regulators alleged that the state violated the terms of the grant, Bauer said such performance is typical in federal funding for transportation. After Newsom reset the project from a connection between the state's two largest metropolises to a ten-figure project to connect two cities with a combined population of under 600,000, the new governor also declared that he'd hang onto $3.5 billion from Washington. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. "But there is no love lost".

"At every turn, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has mismanaged and misled Californians on the viability of the project".

Assemblyman Vince Fong also released a statement in response.

Newsom said the state is properly using the money to finish the segment in the Central Valley, a mostly rural agricultural region. "The feds can, in fact, claw that money back".