Gov. Newsom budget proposal doubles down on high speed rail, electric vehicles

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated a commitment to supporting the development of high-speed rail projects on Thursday, highlighting a $9.1 billion transit package to support transportation projects statewide.

The governor presented his $286.4 billion budget proposal on Monday. The spending plan includes billions for transportation projects across the state. The proposed $9.1 billion plan would spend on projects over two years in line with the state’s climate, public health, equity and connectivity goals, according to the governor’s proposal.

The package earmarks $4.2 billion to complete the construction of electrified high-speed rail in the Central Valley and “perform advance work for service between Merced and Bakersfield.” In addition, the governor proposed $3.25 billion for local, regional and statewide rail construction, including a focus on increasing mobility and reducing pollution.

Speaking from a station in Santa Clara County, Newsom said Thursday that this year’s transportation budget is “framed in the context of our climate agenda.” Newsom noted that, while 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from tailpipes, “if you add up extraction for vehicles, it’s north of 50% of all our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.”

“If you’re going to get serious about decarbonizing and radically changing the way we produce and consume energy and advancing our goals… you can’t do it without radically transforming your transportation sector,” he said, noting his September 2020 order requiring new passenger vehicle sales be zero-emission by 2035.

Newsom’s budget proposal includes $6.1 billion over five years to expand infrastructure and zero-emission vehicle access. The package includes $1.5 billion for school transportation programs and electric school buses, $1.1 billion for zero-emissions trucks, buses and off-road equipment, and $900 million to advance zero-emission vehicle infrastructure access in low-income areas.

The spending comes after $3.9 billion allocated in the 2021 Budget Act to accelerate the development of zero-emission infrastructure and passenger vehicles, bringing that state’s total investment to $10 billion over six years to decarbonize the transportation sector.

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