Newsom to meet with Valley mayors after bombshell high-speed rail announcement

One day after Gov. Gavin Newsom made a major announcement on the future of high-speed rail and economic development in the central San Joaquin Valley during his State of the State address, the governor is returning to the Valley to discuss his plans with local mayors.

Newsom will first visit Riverview Elementary in Parlier, where he will sign two early action budget bills — AB 72 and AB 73 — that provide emergency assistance to California communities with unsafe drinking water. The event will be at 1 p.m. and is open to the news media but not the public.

The signings will be Newsom’s first as governor. In his address, Newsom called the lack of access to clean drinking water “a moral disgrace.”

Newsom will then head back to Fresno to meet with Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy and Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh for a private discussion on economic development, including the future of high-speed rail.

On Tuesday, Newsom scaled back the future of the state’s ambitious high-speed rail project, which leaders once hoped would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego,” Newsom said, “let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.”

Cost of the project had ballooned to more than $77.3 billion in recent estimates, up from a $45 billion estimate in 2010.

The governor stressed the importance Tuesday of completing the Merced to Bakersfield segment, which is already well under construction.

Rory Appleton is a fourth-generation Fresnan who covers politics for his hometown newspaper. A Fresno State graduate, he has won six first-place California News Publishers Association awards and a McClatchy President’s Award for his reporting and column writing over the last two years.