Gov. Rick Scott abandoned his job-creation mantra in favor of a conservative ideology that will not spare the U.S. budget one iota, though he lambasted federal spending in rejecting $2.4 billion in stimulus money to construct a high-speed rail link between Tampa and Orlando.
Instead of Florida benefiting from the jobs and infrastructure those federal dollars would have yielded, California or other states will receive that investment.
After freshmen Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio spurned federal rail projects, the U.S. Transportation Department sent $1.2 billion to high-speed initiatives in 14 other states in December.
In his letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Scott suggested that Florida’s rail allocation would best be spent on interstate and port infrastructure projects, but he must have been advised that those federal dollars are designated only for rail.
Scott also cited what he projected as $3 billion in potential cost overruns, which he stated would burden Florida taxpayers. But that, too, is not factual.
As recently outlined, any construction contract would have bound the contractor to pay for overruns, not taxpayers, and a variety of international companies stood poised to bid on the project.
Furthermore, the governor indicated questionable ridership and revenue projections, labeling them as “historically overly optimistic.” Yet Scott disregarded his own repeated statement about waiting for a ridership study from the state Department of Transportation before deciding the project’s future. That study has yet to be completed. In addition, the aforementioned contract would have also bound the contractor to cover operating deficits.
Again, the governor is putting up a false front on this issue.
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