SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A day after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to scale back the state’s high-speed rail project, President Donald Trump demanded that federal funds be reimbursed on Twitter.
Within the hour, Newsom had responded, tweeting that the President’s post was “fake news.”
The President posted the pointed criticism on his preferred social media outlet early Wednesday evening, tweeting that the state needs to repay $3.5 billion to the federal government in the wake of the Governor’s comments on high-speed rail during the State of the State address Tuesday.
Newsom dropped the bombshell early in his State of the State address, announcing that California would abandon the state’s plan for a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
During the address, he said that, while he respects the vision of his predecessors Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “…there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”
“Let’s be real,” Newsom continued. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”
A day later, President Trump responded to that announcement by calling out California — and Governor Newsom by extension — with his tweet.
It did not take long for Governor to respond Wednesday night. Less than an hour had passed when he posted a statement saying that the money belongs to the state and has been allocated by Congress for the still ongoing project. He also added a dig about the President “desperately searching for some wall $$” at the end of the tweet.
During Tuesday’s address, Newsom confirmed that the state would continue work to finish the high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield, dismissing critics who would call it a “train to nowhere” and citing the need to reduce air pollution in the Central Valley and tap into the region’s economic potential.
The Governor’s office later clarified that Newsom was still fully committed to building a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite there not currently being a path to do so.
The state got $3.5 billion in federal funding to complete the Merced to Bakersfield line. If it is not complete by 2022, that money must be refunded.
During his address, Newsom specifically made note of the federal funding that the state had received for the project.
“I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump,” Newsom said.
President Trump and the governor have been at odds since before Newsom took office. While Gov. Newsom told KPIX 5 anchor Ken Bastida during an interview last month that he is not trying to pick fights with the President, earlier this week, the governor redeployed several hundred National Guard troops from the state’s southern border with Mexico in defiance of the Trump administration’s request for support.