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Governor Scott Declines Federal Money for High-Speed Rail

12:10 AM, Feb 17, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Governor Rick Scott's decision not to accept $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail in Florida is drawing mixed reactions.

"It's another case of the 'Let's Get to Work' mantra doing the opposite of what it's supposed to do," said State Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston.

Supporters of the High Speed Rail Project estimate the project could have provided between 12,000 and 14,000 jobs for Florida.

"I hope he would consider reversing his decision, taking a look at this again and looking at it from the point of view of both jobs and infrastructure," said Rich.

But the Governor stood firm in his decision today, speaking to reporters just hours after rejecting the federal funds.

"The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits," he said.

Governor Scott estimated the project could end up costing state taxpayers an additional three billion dollars to get running. And if the first train never left the station, Florida would be on the hook for the federal loan.

"It is absolutely critical that we make smart investments with taxpayer dollars," said Scott.  

But some elected officials are questioning where that intelligence came from. Scott had said he would wait on a high-speed rail feasibility study due later this month before making a final decision. But instead, he referenced a January 6th study conducted by The Reason Foundation, a libertarian group.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is calling that logic short-sighted, writing on Twitter, "If Florida would've had a Governor who rejected President Eisenhower's idea, we wouldn't have an interstate system."

But defenders of the Governor's decision maintain those were different circumstances.

"We wish we were in better times, no question about it and if we were in better times, I think we all believe that high speed rail has a future in the state of Florida, no question about it. It's just not right for this particular economic times," said Senator John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

The money allocated for Florida's High-Speed Rail plan will now likely go to another state. California, Illinois, and New York have all indicated they want the funds.








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