California labor unions say thousands of Central Valley jobs may never be created after the latest setback for the state’s high-speed rail project.
The Trump administration announced on Thursday it would take back $929 million in federal money, arguing the bullet train project has substantially changed since it granted its funds, and that California has failed to make enough progress.
“The Trump Administration is attempting to kill thousands of good, family-supporting jobs our state desperately needs,” Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, wrote in a statement.
But Jeff Michael, director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of Pacific in Stockton, said it’s too early to claim jobs will be lost.
“A lot is unknown. It depends on how the state reacts to the loss of money. In general, a billion dollars in construction spending could create about ten thousand job years, or years of employment in the economy,” Michael said.
“What we don’t know is whether losing this funding will actually be a setback for the project. Will California back-fill that funding from another source so that the project continues? Or is that loss of funding enough to derail the whole financial plan?” he added.
State high-speed rail officials said they’ll move forward with the network’s Central Valley portion even without the federal money. They said they’ll rely on state revenue, including that from California’s cap-and-trade auction to offset greenhouse-gas emissions.