This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Wednesday that he intends to open a satellite attorney general's office in Washington, D.C., as he prepares to fight the Trump administration.
- The results from California's latest cap-and-trade auction are in, and revenue from the sale of pollution credits was weak.
- A bill that would set up a state-funded legal aid system for immigrants will be amended by its author to allow those with criminal records to apply for assistance.
With President Trump pledging $1 trillion for infrastructure, California officials on Wednesday took a break from their feud with the new administration to propose a list of $100 billion in projects for possible federal funding to help rebuild the Golden State’s system of crumbling roads and bridges and improve transit and water storage.
Any federal money for the 51 projects would be in addition to money California is hoping to raise for its aging infrastructure, wrote Nancy McFadden, the governor’s executive secretary, in a letter to the National Governors Assn.
“In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work — many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment,” McFadden wrote. “Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability.”
The list of priority projects includes roads, levees, bridges, ports, train and public transit systems, water storage and recycling projects, and energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services.
The state faces a $136-billion backlog of necessary repairs on state highways and local roads, and Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed in his new budget to increase spending on transportation $4.3 billion a year for the next decade.
Gov. Brown's office said Wednesday it had agreed with legislative leaders to an April 6 deadline for any transportation funding deal.
“To prepare for the future — and complement federal investments — California is doing its part by working on legislation to ensure a permanent and sustainable funding stream is in place to further support road, highway and other critical infrastructure construction and improvements — part of a 10-year transportation investment plan,” McFadden wrote.
While California Democrats have feuded with Trump over issues including immigration, state officials have voiced encouragement about his pledge to put $1 trillion dollars into infrastructure projects.
“We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation,” Trump said during his inauguration.
In his State of the State address last month, Brown welcomed the president’s attention.
“And I say, ‘Amen to that, man. Amen to that, brother.’ We’re there with you!” he said.
State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly told reporters he plans to meet soon with new federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the wish list.
Asked about whether tensions between California and Trump over other issues might hurt the state’s requests, Kelly said the state has had a “very functional and good relationship” with federal officials. “We expect that continue and we are going to work hard towards making that continue,” he said.
Kelly also defended the inclusion of high-speed rail projects on the list, despite opposition from 14 Republican members of Congress. He said the high-speed rail proposal is “important and transformative,” which is the standard used to decide which projects to put on the list..
Projects on the priority list released Wednesday include:
— Widen and replace interchanges of the 710 Freeway serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
— Strengthen the Otay Mesa Mexican border security with a new port of entry for efficient crossings.
— Construct 16 miles of express lanes along major commute corridors on the 405 Freeway in Orange County.
— Build express lanes along the 15 Freeway in Riverside County and the 10 Freeway in San Bernardino County.
— Replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach.
— Expand and improve the Los Angeles Metro Transit system, including the Purple and Orange lines, to benefit commuters and the 2024 Olympic bid.
— Modernize and replace the Los Angeles Metro rail fleet.
— Expand the ongoing Central Valley high-speed rail construction to include service from San Jose to San Francisco, and provide improvements for high-speed rail from Burbank to Anaheim.
— Construct a Los Angeles Regional Recycled Water project to purify water currently being discharged into the ocean for recharging groundwater basins.
— Build an early-warning earthquake system.
— Construct a Southern California Regional Emergency Operations Center at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos to serve as the central operations base for the National Guard.
Updated at 2:49 pm to include comments from State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly.