Gov. Gavin Newsom said his administration will change course on two major state infrastructure projects, announcing Tuesday that he does not think the state should be focused on building a high-speed rail line that connects Los Angeles and San Francisco and that he favors one, not two, water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The comments during Newsom's first State of the State speech portend a decidedly different approach to the controversial projects than those of Newsom's predecessors, and raise significant questions about the future of both. Newsom made clear in the speech that he will not abandon high-speed rail altogether, but wants his administration to focus on completing the Central Valley portion of the line for now.
Newsom promised to "continue to push for more federal funding and federal dollars," adding: "But let's just get something done."
Less clear is what his change of course on the Delta tunnels will mean for that project.
The new governor had made national news just one day earlier, when he announced he would pull National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border in defiance of President Trump.
In Tuesday's sweeping, 43-minute speech, Newsom reiterated that rebuke of Trump — but quickly moved on to issues closer to home. He announced proposals to tackle some of the state's most pressing problems, including housing and homelessness, the lack of clean drinking water, education funding, health care costs and the state's changing workforce.
Newsom also said that 1 million Californians are plagued by water contaminated by lead, arsenic and uranium, and called for a solution; said he would propose a strategy for dealing with the bankrupt utility, PG&E, within 60 days; called for more education spending and accountability in schools; said he would appoint a new commission on homelessness, chaired by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and put $500 million into emergency shelters around the state.