Scott says no thanks to feds’ $2.4 billion for hi-speed railby Dara Kam | February 16th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott announced this morning he’s rejecting $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money from President Obama’s administration for a high-speed rail project from Orlando to Tampa.
Scott made the announcement at a hastily-called press conference this morning where he blasted the president’s budget.
“You don’t have to be an economics expert to know when you spend more money than you take in you will fail,” Scott said, saying ridership studies were overstated.
Scott’s move will certainly draw cheers from tea party activists who have railed against the high-speed rail project. Scott, who rolled out his budget at a tea party event earlier this month, met privately with two Tampa tea party activists last week. The pair urged him to say no to the high-speed rail project that had the support of powerful GOP legislative leaders as well as Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“I am deeply disappointed in the decision to not move forward with the Orlando to Tampa passenger rail project,” Mica said in a statement. “This is a huge setback for the state of Florida, our transportation, economic development, and important tourism industry.”
Scott was also asked about Central Florida’s controversial $1.2 billion SunRail project — which critics have called a worse deal for taxpayers than high-speed rail.
“I’m still reviewing SunRail,” the governor said.
House Speaker Dean Cannon issued an ambiguous statement about Scott’s decision to scrap the project that would have brought jobs to his hometown.
“I have not spoken to the Governor regarding today’s announcement, but I watched the Governor’s press conference. I’m encouraged that he is focusing on the practical realities of government programs, and their long-term impacts. As the Constitutional officer charged with carrying out transportation policy, the Governor seems to have determined that at this time he cannot feasibly implement high-speed rail in Florida. I have confidence that he will bring the same level of scrutiny to other issues,” Cannon, R-Winter Park, said.