Less than 24 hours after the chief administrator of California's troubled high-speed rail project resigned, Gov. Jerry Brown this morning defended the $98.5 billion project and said he will push it forward.
The resignation of Roelof van Ark, the chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and an announcement the same day of the planned installation of Brown adviser Dan Richard as chairman of the rail board, were viewed by many as an effort by Brown to recast the project ahead of legislative hearings this year.
"I'm putting my own stamp on state government, slowly but surely," the Democratic governor told reporters after an event in Elk Grove.
He said Richard "knows his material."
The Legislature is highly skeptical of the project, and public opinion has turned against it, according to a recent Field Poll.
"We're pushing forward," Brown said. "We're going to build, but we're not going to be stupid ... We're going to be very careful and build incrementally as we go."
He said, "A lot of people want to turn off the lights. I'm not one of them. We're going to build, we're going to invest, and California is going to stay up among the great states and the great political jurisdictions of the world."
Brown was asked what people might expect to hear from him in his State of the State address next week.
He said, "You're going to hear so much that I wouldn't miss it if I were you."