Governor Gavin Newsom delivered his first official State of the State address, saying that California will not be a part of what he calls "political theater" at the border.
During Newsom's first State of the State address which he gave from Sacramento, the newly minted governor made a number of surprising announcements, including one in which he said he was cancelling the proposed high-speed rail route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, citing high costs and delays. He said that while California is capable of creating a high-speed link between the two cities, there "simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A."
“But let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long,” Newsom said. “There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
The move by Newsom means the state will have to pay back about $3 and a half billion dollars to the federal government.
The newly minted governor also said he plans to reduce the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta twin tunnels project to one tunnel.
“I do not support the WaterFix as currently configured,” Newsom said in his State of the State Address in Sacramento. “Meaning, I do not support the twin tunnels. But we can build on the important work that's already been done. That's why I do support a single tunnel.”
The Metropolitian Water District of Southern California - which provides water to agencies throughout the Southland - agreed last year to spend nearly $11 billion on the two-tunnel project.
MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said the agency plans to work with Newsom's office to ensure the region's water supplies.
“Metropolitan welcomes Governor Newsom's endorsement of modernizing California's water-conveyance system in the Delta,” he said in a statement. “While a single-tunnel project will not resolve all pumping problems in the Delta and is less flexible for dealing with climate-change impacts, it is imperative that we move forward rapidly on a conveyance project.
“Having no Delta fix imperils all of California. We intend to work constructively with the Newsom Administration on developing a refined WaterFix project that addresses the needs of cities, farms and the environment,” Kightlinger said.
Newsom also said he has redirected National Guard troops who were stationed at the southern border with Mexico on Monday to help with what he called the "real crisis" at the border, like going after illegal pot farms destroying the state's forests. He also said he will direct the Guard troops to prepare the state for the next major wildfire.
The California governor also reiterated his opposition to the current administration, which has taken opposite positions on issues like climate change, immigration and economics.
"He described a country where inequality doesn’t seem to be a problem, where climate change doesn’t exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum," Newsom said of the President's State of the Union.
The governor laid out his agenda for the next year, promising to deliver on a host of issues for his constituents.
"The tough calls we must make together on rail, water and energy. How we protect migrants, care for seniors, and help the homeless, and how we will tackle the affordability crisis that is coming to define life in this state. I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But the only way to find them is to face these issues honestly," said Newsom.
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