MIAMI (CBS4) – Partisan politics took center stage in Tallahassee Wednesday morning when Florida Governor Rick Scott formally rejected more than $2 billion of federal money to build a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.
In total, federal money would have paid for approximately $2.4 billion of the $2.6 billion proposed high-speed rail line. The state would have had to pay approximately $280 million of the final cost of the project.READ MORE: Suspect Wanted For Armed Home Invasion In Critical Condition Following Police-Involved Shooting In SW Miami-Dade
Governor Scott took time in his announcement to lambaste the new budget proposed by President Barack Obama before he said that he had three reasons to reject the money from the Department of Transportation.
Scott said that Floridians could be on the hook for more than $3 billion; he said ridership and revenue projections are overly-optimistic; and if the project is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion used for the rail line back to the federal government.
Scott’s decision effectively quashes any hopes from state lawmakers of having a high-speed rail line that would eventually have connected Miami, Orlando, Tampa and other areas.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the federal government was “extremely disappointed by Governor Rick Scott’s decision to walk away.”
“We worked with the governor to make sure we eliminated all financial risk for the state, instead, requiring private businesses competing for the project to assume cost overruns and operating expenses,” Secretary LaHood said. “This project could have supported thousands of good-paying jobs for Floridians and helped grow Florida businesses, all while alleviating congestion on Florida’s highways.”READ MORE: South Florida Prepping For Approval Of COVID Vaccine For Kids 5 To 11
The loss of the federal money will mean that thousands of workers who would have worked on the high-speed rail line will now be out of work.
Scott also said President Obama’s proposed high-speed rail lines are not the answer to Florida’s economic recovery. Scott said that instead of the high-speed rail project the state should be focus on improving rail and highway infrastructure along with ports.
Scott said that government has no resources of its own and that President Obama’s new budget includes $1.6 trillion in higher taxes, though he didn’t cite specifics of where the numbers came from.
Scott also took time to say that “we cannot expect individuals to build businesses in America if our taxes are higher than other countries.”
But, low corporate taxes don’t always insure a country’s prosperity. Ireland has been repeatedly cited in the past as having the most pro-business, low corporate tax rate in the world and is now on the verge of bankruptcy.
Don’t worry about the $2 billion plus cash the federal government now has on its hands. Late Wednesday afternoon, senior New York Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement asking the White House to redirect the Florida money to New York.MORE NEWS: Centner Academy Reverses Course On 30-Day Quarantine For Vaccinated Students
“Florida’s loss should be New York’s gain. Other states may not be ready to unlock the potential of high-speed rail, but it is a top priority for upstate New York,” Schumer’s statement said. “We can put these funds to use in a way that gets the best bang for the buck.”