If you haven’t heard the news yet, the new Tea Party Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, recently rejected $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds from the federal government, a move that is without sound logic and is either due to corruption, him being forced to do so by his out-of-the-public-eye superiors/funders, or pure ignorance.
Now, two Florida state senators (one Republican and one Democrat) have filed a lawsuit against Rick Scott. The lawsuit claims that Scott overstepped his authority in rejecting the federal funds. The legislators had already agreed to fund the project and Scott had no legal right to change that.
“If every newly elected governor decided to stop the major infrastructure projects which were under way when he was elected, Florida will not be able to plan, finance, and construct the major infrastructure projects it requires for its people and its future,” the 281-page lawsuit argues.
“The bipartisan petition with the Florida Supreme Court asks that Scott be forced to approve the Tampa to Orlando rail project. They believe it would bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the state,” Michael Peltier of Reuters reports.
Scott’s Initial Rejection of the High-Speed Rail Funds & the Obama Administration’s Response
After Scott’s initial rejection of the high-speed rail funds, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood offered Scott a chance to reconsider. He gave Scott until February 25 to get his act together on the matter and change his mind. Scott didn’t do so and LaHood even extended the opportunity. The lawsuit comes after Scott dropped the ball on that opportunity.
Financial Realities and Implications of the Florida High-Speed Rail Projects
To be clear on the finances of this situation, the federal government was putting in $2.4 billion for some important high-speed rail links initially between Orlando and Tampa and eventually extending to Miami. Florida had to come up with a measly $300 million match and cover some of the operating costs, all of which would probably bring several times more back to the state in billions of dollars worth of new business and thousands upon thousands of new jobs. Nonetheless, Scott and his team either can’t do math or didn’t even think about trying.
Why Would Scott be So Stubborn & Irresponsible?
More likely than not, I think the reason for Scott rejecting the funds is basically to continue the new extreme Republican party’s complete obstructionism to everything the Obama administration tries to do. They want to make Obama look like a failure by ruining the United States (or their portion of the United States) while he’s in office. It’s a political move that essentially means holding the public hostage.
Florida Support for High-Speed Rail
If you think Scott is playing to the preferences of the voters, think again. 67% of Floridians polled on the matter support state or federal funding for high-speed rail and only 17% oppose it.
Floridians want high-speed rail. They are tired of traffic jams and want the economic growth and job creation that comes with the project, which is nearly entirely funded by the federal government anyway. They don’t want to go down the route of Wisconsin and be the laughing stock of the United States.
Photo Credit: JAXPORT