The outgoing Obama Administration has re-written the rules several times to keep a $3.2 billion federal grant flowing to California. It was part of the 2009 stimulus bill for shovel-ready projects—yes, really.
The Los Angeles Times reported last week, in an article picked up by the East Bay Times, that a federal report showed that the first 118-mile phase that is considered the easiest segment of the 500-mile plan—could run 50 percent over budget. The federal grant was supposed to be matched dollar-for-dollar, but the administration provided what amounted to a line-of-credit.
Fortunately, when Donald Trump is sworn in and his team takes over, they can put an end to the federal largesse. California voters were sold a bill of goods when they approved the high-speed rail in 2008—polling has shown how unpopular it has become.
Nonetheless, the governor continues to allocate money in his budget--$375 million from cap-and-trade funds in his latest proposal. The state bond funds are tied up in litigation so here’s hoping the feds turn off the cash spigot.
Incidentally, while the governor continues to push strongly ahead on his legacy projects of the high-speed rail and Delta tunnels, his budget message urged spending restraint (Democrats won back super-majorities in both houses) as well as adding to the rainy-day fund for the recession that is certain to come.
One of the best lines I’ve seen about the transition from President Obama to President-elect Trump appeared in last Sunday’s East Bay Times. The article, written by four reporters about the potential policy wars between the feds and California, quoted Cal law professor John Yoo.
He said California is “going to know what it was like to be Texas for the past eight years.”
Liberal legislative leaders already have put former Attorney General Eric Holder on retainer, while Gov. Brown’s has appointed Congressman Xavier Becerra to replace now-Senator Kamala Harris as state Attorney General. Both actions appear to be gearing up for a battle over immigration and sanctuary cities, as well as health care and climate change.