Political Reality Hitting Budget Battles
MIAMI (CBS4) – The spending battles are getting larger and louder around the country, and Florida is no exception. In Tampa Monday protestors yelled “we need jobs.”
They want a Tampa to Orlando high speed rail line, the one Governor Rick Scott rejected despite a federal promise of $2.4 billion to pay for it. Supporters of the governor also carried their signs applauding his stance. They worry, like Scott, that the rail line might become a white elephant. Governor Scott is now hinting he might change course but only if he can be convinced Florida has no financial risk.
There are also the brewing fights in Tallahassee over state worker pensions, education and much more. In Miami supporters are trying to salvage $75 million in federal money for a deep dredge project at the Port of Miami. President Obama left it out of his recently released budget blueprint, and that could eventually cost the region 30,000 jobs that bigger cargo shipments promise in the future.
Miami Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Floridians must get used to new budget realities. She told me, “If this dredging project were the number one priority the county should have put it in the (local) budget. They didn’t because they said Congress will take care of it. These are lean and hungry times.”
Bottom line–don’t count on automatic federal largesse or state budget help. The debt crisis is being felt everywhere and will reshape debates and priorities for years to come.