President Donald Trump is demanding California return billions of dollars to the federal government following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to scale down the state’s costly high-speed rail project.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump called the project a “’green disaster.’”
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” Trump added. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now.”
Newsom at his State of the State Address on Tuesday put the brakes on the $77 billion high speed project, an endeavor that voters authorized at the ballot box in 2008 with a plan to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.
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Gov. Jerry Brown kept the project moving forward during his administration. Newsom announced that he’d finish a link connecting Merced and Bakersfield. The new governor intends to finish environmental studies that one day could lead to the project’s completion as it was originally designed.
Newsom in his remarks to lawmakers stressed that he did not want to return money it received for high speed rail from the Obama administration to the federal government.
“For those who want to walk away from this whole endeavor, I offer you this: Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it,” Newsom said on Tuesday. “I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”
Newsom has previously said he has a “tweet by tweet” relationship with Trump. Decrying “fake news,” he quickly responded to Trump’s tweet with one of his own.
“We’re building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond,” Newsom replied. “This is California’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”
Newsom also poked fun at the president, saying Trump is “desperately searching for some wall (money).”
Earlier this week, Newsom took aim at the Trump administration by reducing a deployment of California National Guard troops. Newsom at his speech also criticized the president’s “fear mongering” over immigration.