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High-Speed Rail

In Veto Statement, Newsom Rebukes Friedman for Blocking Green Transportation Funding

Governor Gavin Newsom and Assemblymember Laura Friedman – photo via Twitter

Governor Gavin Newsom rebuked State Assemblymember Laura Friedman for her role in blocking $7.6 billion worth of green transportation funding. The reprimand was buried in Newsom's statement in vetoing Friedman's bill A.B. 1147 last Friday.

In September, Friedman and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon led budget negotiations that ended at an impasse, with legislators rejecting the governor's proposed allocations for high-speed rail ($4.2 billion), transit capital ($2.5 billion, including $1 billion for L.A. Olympics transit projects), active transportation ($500 million), and more. The deeply anti-high-speed rail L.A. Times recently revealed some new details about Friedman's role in the fiasco: "Friedman led the negotiations for the Legislature on the [governor's proposed high-speed rail] appropriations. She said the Legislature offered Gov. Gavin Newsom $1 billion for construction and another $1.5 billion for change orders in August. ...But Newsom held out for the full $4.2 billion." Via Twitter, Friedman has denied that she blocked the proposed transportation funding, calling the assertion "ridiculous."

Friedman authored A.B. 1147, which would have modified the regional transportation planning processes to require more data and analysis regarding greenhouse gas reductions, and would also have called on Caltrans to develop a pilot system of branded bicycle highways.

Newsom's veto statement noted that he shares Friedman's "goal to align policies and promote the use of active transportation modes such as walking and biking," but further declared that A.B. 1147 is "not necessary because state agencies are already collaborating" on green transportation. Then Newsom reasserted his call for the Assembly to approve the green transportation funding proposal blocked by Rendon and Friedman:

I proposed $7.6 billion to make key investments in a wide variety of critically necessary projects including high speed rail, transit connectivity projects in advance of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, active transportation, and a variety of other rail system improvements. Not only will these projects improve safety and access for bicyclists and pedestrians, they will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are key to meeting our state's climate objectives.

I look forward to re-engaging with the Legislature to finalize and pass a comprehensive transportation package early next year.

It's not clear whether Newsom would have vetoed A.B. 1147 anyway. It is clear that Newsom is laying down the gauntlet for the next round of negotiations on the same proposal that Rendon and Friedman turned down in September. Those negotiations could give a green light - or bring another disappointing delay - for much-needed funding for rail, transit, bike, walk, and climate funding. Those are components of the same "statewide, integrated, multimodal transportation system" and greenhouse gas emission reductions that Friedman expected to achieve via A.B. 1147.

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