Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


California Governor Scales Back High-Speed Train

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, flanked by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, right, applauds Camp Fire survivor Allyn Pierce during his first state of the state address to a joint session of the legislature at the Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
Associated Press
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, flanked by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, right, applauds Camp Fire survivor Allyn Pierce during his first state of the state address to a joint session of the legislature at the Capitol Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
California Governor Limits High Speed Rail To Central Valley
GUEST: Katie Orr, politics and government reporter, KQED Subscribe to the Midday Edition podcast on iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

Welcome to mid-day edition. I'm Jake Hindman. Just minutes ago Governor Newsome wrapped up his State of the State address. He pledged to protect the California Dream pointing out problems that have been deferred for too long that may threaten the dream if not addressed at the top of the priority list was everything from housing the state's water supply and investing in California's workforce. Newsom continued to be critical of the Trump administration stance on immigration and a border wall. So the answer to the White House. With all due respect no more division no more xenophobia no more nativism KQED politics and government desk reporter Katie or was at the capital for the speech and she joins us now with analysis. Katie thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. So Katie Governor Newsom talked about protecting migrants seniors and the homeless. What are your biggest takeaways from the speech today. Well I think we just heard Governor Newsome really set his agenda for the next couple years really in office and laid out some ambitious programs named some big problems that he wanted to address and also take a different tack than his predecessor Jerry Brown. So I think you really saw him trying to distinguish himself and set up the framework for his coming time as governor and he got a lot of applause for his criticism of the Trump administration. Let's take a listen. This border emergency is nothing more than a manufactured crisis and California will not be part of this political theater. Now this line received one of the biggest rounds of applause to the speech. What is new some doing to differentiate the state from the federal government on issues around border security and immigration right. Newsom announced to the media yesterday and and then talked about it in his speech today that he plans to take most of the 360 California National Guard troops currently stationed at the border and reassign them. He expects there to be only about a 100 left down there at the border by the end of March. Those 100 will continue to take part in narcotic search and seizure operations but won't be doing anything like surveillance that could overlap with the Border Patrol's mission to stop migrants from coming over the border. He he he wanted to make that clear that they're not taking part in anything like that. The other guard members who are down there now will begin working with Cal Fire to help get ready for the upcoming fire season. And about 150 of them will work on a task force to take on illegal marijuana growth in Northern California. And Katie we've heard a lot in the past few days about the differences between Governor Newsome and his predecessors. What are some of the differences we heard in terms of priorities in his speech right. Well I think he made those really clear today. For instance Governor Jerry Brown had long championed high speed rail a vision of having a high speed train eventually running up and down the state to connect some of the major cities. Gavin Newsom said today that really that's not going to happen. He said that they could complete the line of train that is already underway from Bakersfield summer said and they will keep going forward on environmental plans for the four Phase One. But he really said it's time for a reimagining of that project and it might not look like. Governor Jerry Brown had said it would. The other issue he says he does not support the Twin Tunnels project this was a two massive tunnels that we're going to be built underneath that the delta here to sort of ferry water from northern to southern California also a huge priority of Governor Jerry Brown. He says instead he'll support a one tunnel version of that project. And when he turned to the issue of homelessness Newsom referenced the hepatitis A crisis in San Diego he said the state needs to have the backs of counties and cities. Here's a clip on this so we need to work together as a state and regions to focus on prevention. Rapid Rehousing mental health and more permanent supportive housing because at the end of the day shelter solves sleep housing and supportive services solve homelessness. So Katie what will the state do to as he put it have the backs of cities and counties on this issue. Well first Governor Newsome announced that he's forming a commission on homelessness and supportive housing. That's going to be led by current Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg who's well known around here in the capital he used to be Senate president pro tem of the state Senate here. Newsome is also proposing a half a billion dollars to be put into funding for Navigation Centers. Those are emergency shelters with services onsite. And then he wants another hundred million dollars for something he calls whole person care that's more integrated and comprehensive to what how things are run these days. So basically more money and more programs to try and get people off the street and give them services and support to keep them off the street. And Governor Newsome called housing perhaps our most overwhelming challenge right now. He says you know there's too much demand and too little supply and that is happening in large part because too many cities and counties aren't even planning for how to build. Some are flat out refusing to do anything at all Newsome committed more than a billion dollars to cities. Is there a lot of enthusiasm for this plan as a step in the right direction Katie. Well you know I think it's interesting because we have already seen him take on Huntington Beach who he says is not planning for new housing. He is actually filing a lawsuit against them. He said there are 47 other cities he could potentially do the same to in California. But he has said he's not going to take that step yet and that he's going to meet with these leaders of these cities next week to try and come to a conclusion. I mean I think this is where you see the traditional tension between the state and local governments. Local governments say you know let us do our own thing. Don't come in here and tell us you know how we should be running our cities and Newsom says as a mayor he appreciates that but that cities need to be held accountable if they're not taking steps which ultimately impact the rest of the state. And what aspects of the speech will you be following up on. Well I think there's just so many I personally am interested to see how this high speed rail project goes. Are we even going to end up with a train you know running from Bakersfield Summer said. And of course homelessness. I mean this is something that touches everyone in California. Everybody sees that everybody. Certainly those people who are experiencing it. It'll be interesting to see if he can make any traction on that. Of course this is something we'll all be following up on. I've been speaking to KQED politics and government reporter Katie or Katie thank you so much for joining us. You're welcome.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he's abandoning a $77 billion plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will focus instead on completing a 119-mile (190-kilometer) segment in the state's agricultural heartland.

Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 calling for the linking of Northern and Southern California, a rail project initially estimated to cost $33 billion and be completed in 2020. Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost and pushed the timeline to 2033.

"Let's be real," Newsom said in his first State of the State address. "The current project, as planned, would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency."


RELATED: California Governor Rebukes Trump In Border Troop Withdrawal

Newsom pledged to finish the segment already under construction through California's Central Valley. He rejected the idea critics have raised that it will be a "train to nowhere" and said it can help revitalize the economically depressed region.

While that construction continues Newsom said the state will conduct environmental reviews on the entire Los Angeles to San Francisco route and push for more federal and private money to connect the valley to the state's economic powerhouses, though he didn't say how.

"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.

Newsom also replaced Brown's head of the state board that oversees the project and pledged more accountability for contractors that run over on costs.


His remarks on high-speed rail came during his first State of the State as governor of the nation's most populous state. During the address, he said the state faces "hard decisions that are coming due" on clean water, housing and homelessness.

Newsom rebuked President Donald Trump again on border security after saying Monday he will withdraw most of the state's National Guard troops from the Mexico border.

"Last week, we heard (Trump) stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values," he said. "He described a country where inequality didn't seem to be a problem, where climate change didn't exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum at the border."

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

Newsom, though, said there's been a "gray area" in the troops' duties that may have allowed some to inadvertently participate in immigration activities. A Guard official said the state's troops have not helped detain anyone.

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

He announced the creation of the new Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing to address what he said is a moral issue that has become a public health crisis. His administration recently sued the Orange County city of Huntington Beach, accusing it of not meeting its affordable housing goals.

The governor has invited the leaders of 47 other noncomplying cities to a meeting next week for what he called "a candid conversation."

"I don't intend to file suit against all 47, but I'm not going to preside over neglect and denial," he said during his address. "These cities need to summon the political courage to build their fair share of housing."

Newsom also promised to have a plan within 60 days for dealing with the recent bankruptcy filing by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. after years of devastating wildfires.

He said he has convened a team of the nation's best bankruptcy lawyers and financial experts from the energy sector to work with his administration to develop a strategy to protect the state's power grid, wildfire victims, company employees and ratepayers.

"We are all frustrated and angry that it's come to this," Newsom said. "PG&E didn't do enough to secure dangerous equipment or plan for the future."

He also promised to address the pressure that climate change is putting on utilities.