A new state audit raises questions about flaws in California's $77 billion high-speed rail project, adding pressure on Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to consider cutting back the construction of the train or make other major changes.
The independent audit is the key focus of a Joint Legislative Audit Committee oversight hearing planned for Thursday in Sacramento, where top officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority are expected to be questioned by lawmakers.
According to the audit, the state risks having to pay back as much as $3.5 billion in federal funds on the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles project.
"Whatever fantasy the next governor has in mind, he has to deal with a huge multibillion-dollar shortfall between getting anything between Central California and Silicon Valley that is high speed," said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno and longtime critic of the bullet-train project who pushed for the audit. "This audit is so damning that it basically says there is no path to completion and has now triggered a federal audit."