Scott rejects federal rail funds for Florida
February 16th, 2011
12:27 PM ET
3 years ago

Scott rejects federal rail funds for Florida

Washington (CNN) - Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected $432 million in highly-touted funding from the Obama administration for an Orlando to Tampa high-speed rail Wednesday. Slamming government for becoming "addicted to spending," Scott listed three reasons why accepting the federal funds would amount to a "recipe for disaster."

In a statement, Scott said "I was elected to get Floridians back to work and to change the way government does business in our state."

He becomes the third Republican governor to reject the White House initiative for high speed rail, joining Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio's Gov. John Kasich.

Among Scott's reasons for rejecting the funds allocated to Florida: "Capital cost overruns that could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion," "overly optimistic" ridership and revenue projections, and $2.4 billion owed to the feds if the project "becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down."

Citing a Florida budget proposal sent to the legislature that "reduces the size and scope of government, reduces the costs of that government and passes those cost savings on to taxpayers" in order to "create new jobs and turn Florida's economy around," Scott determined that "higher taxes and more government spending is a recipe for disaster," and, subsequently, that the rail project was a bust.

He said he spoke with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Tuesday and informed him of the decision to reject funds. In the statement he continued with a reminder: "Government has no resources of its own. Government can only give to us what it has previously taken from us."

The Obama administration previously pulled $1.2 billion in funding from Ohio and Wisconsin after their newly-elected governors vowed to kill high-speed rail projects that were underway. Though both governors asked to use the intended rail funds for different purposes, LaHood announced he would re-direct the funds to other states.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden originally announced the $8 billion stimulus package plan for 13 high speed rail corridor projects across the country in Tampa one year ago. A map reflecting the administration's "Vision for High-Speed Rail in America" has significantly changed with the withdrawal of Wisconsin, Ohio, and now Florida, a state which Obama and Biden carried in 2008.

The award of funds to Florida, originally sought by then-Governor Charlie Crist, represented a significant federal investment in the state.

Another Republican governor, Chris Christie of New Jersey, axed a massive infrastructure project that would have linked New Jersey and New York with a second rail tunnel, putting a damper on plans to ramp up rail in the U.S. Christie expressed concerns about ballooning costs and pulled the plug on the project in October 2010. The federal government promptly asked for a return of $271 million in federal funds already spent to launch the new line.


Filed under: Chris Christie • John Kasich • Rick Scott • Scott Walker • Stimulus
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. GodwinsLaw

    We are a country that was built by railroads, not cars. High speed rail serves a vital role in transportation, or at least it could, if we were willing to make the investment. Regional travel via car and airplane could be replaced by HSR. The benefits are less strain on interstate highways, less airport congestion, and more productivity for business travelers. You can actually get work done while traveling to the next destination. And the jobs are real industrial jobs using steel and machinists to produce a tangible national asset. Lets look at the positives too, people, before seeing our shadow and scurrying back in our holes.

    February 16, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Alina77

    Ok I understand this man , he is for jobs but against them, its very "understandable", but what people in Florida are saying? Don't they think that this road will bring jobs and more visitors to their state?! Are there any body from Florida? We want to hear you guys, at least I want to know what is up the people in Florida?

    February 16, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Larry

    "But according to the Democrats, government is entitled to all of our money to spend and reallocated as it deems fit"

    Why are so many of the right's arguments based on complete lies? Does the truth not give them enough to work with?

    February 16, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. carrotroot

    Our state has close to 16% real unemployment, and this high speed rail was the only big long-term project that was guaranteed to bring about tens of thousands of new jobs to our area. Absolutely STUPID move!

    February 16, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. vic nashville tn

    "Addicted to spending,” many nation coming out of 2008 recession fast why their government and private sectors are pouring money on investment. They want to dominate world economy by 2020

    “Reduces the size government” adding more jobs to unemployment market wow

    Good economy recovery mean build the future. Republicans doesn’t have any clue

    February 16, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Margie

    Well the corporations got their way. The paid to have their corporate CEO's elected. And see what the people, all those straw for brains ones, elected.

    Every single state that got a republican governor is starting to wake up. They wonder how they went to the polls and got him elected. Can you say Rush and Fox anyone. The Natzi type brainwashing media.

    February 16, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "I was elected to get Floridians back to work and to change the way government does business in our state."

    Translation: "I was elected to get Floridians back to work [AS LONG AS THEY'RE NOT UNIONIZED CONSTRUCTION WORKERS AND ENGINEERS] and to change the way government does business in our state [TO PANDER EVEN MORE TO THE ULTRA-RICH AND CORPORATE SPECIAL INTERESTS WHILE SCERWING THE MIDDLE-CLASS]."

    This is, yet again, more of the GOP trying to crush unionized labor, prevent their employment because they view a project like this as a pass-through to Dem candidates' campaign coffers and, ultimately, pandering to Big Oil...because Big Oil certainly hates the idea that people would drive less if a trip from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale by rail took half as long as the drive and was accomplished with an efficient high-speed rail engine or, gasp, even one of those magnetic levitating train. If you don't realize how much Republicans/conservatives truly hate America and want it to collapse fully so coroprations can officially use it (and us) to play masters of the universe, then you are living in a relity vacuum.

    February 16, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Margie

    Hey Rickester wonder where Florida will get the money will you and your like evacuate it for them. Only way possible. but of course you nuts probably think you can.

    February 16, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. sheba57

    you have to wonder about these things...playing politics with the future...it is such a shame....but like some one said...i guess we ill have to just go around those states...

    February 16, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Russ

    Now if Nevada and California can get all these passed over funds, we may just get that high speed train from Las Vegas to Los Anglees. YEAH!!!! We really need it and will take the money any day.

    February 16, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Scott made his millions in real estate and I'm sure it came at the expense of those who could no longer keep their real estate so how could anyone believe this man's intentions are favorable for the State of Florida. I'm sure Scott's hands were deep in the pocket of government while he did his real estate transactions, investigate and you'll find this to be true. No real estate investor is without government money.

    February 16, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Born Again, not Born Yesterday

    I wish I could say that "only in Florida" could a felonious parasite like Rick Scott be rewarded for his crimes by being elected governor, but with the TP in ascendancy, the lunatics are truly in charge of the asylum. With any luck, he'll be a one-termer, but it will take Florida years to recover.

    February 16, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Rdepontb

    Gov Scott,

    I have visited your fine state, and would be most likely to return wit a high-speed rail line. It is often seen as the "state of tomorrow" thanks to the long-viewed Disney corporation and their brand. Disavowing European and Asian style rail service is too short-sighted-"not on my watch" are the words of a loser, sir. Let's let the state attract visitors and serve its citizens every way it can-and we need to start now.

    February 16, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. dave meccariello

    omg. how out of touch can you get??
    remember the 1950s.. when we were building highways and it was boom times??
    now they play political games with infrastructure. id rather spend money at home than on countries i could care less about.
    this is the problem with florida and why it is and always will be a backward state of yokels.

    February 16, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Michael

    California says thank you!

    February 16, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. lou

    It would be pretty sweet to jump on a train and head to Disney.

    February 16, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Former Republican, now an Independent

    This is just another republican governor banding together to hold the people of their state hostage for the sake of politics. The folks in Florida are beginning to get what they asked for by electing this crook. Rick Scott should be in jail instead of governor of a state, after cheating the federal government out of billions in medicare fraud when he worked for Senator Bill Frist and his company, HCA.

    February 16, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Zaggs

    Sorry Obamatons, Scott isn't going to put Florida on the hook for 3 billion because Obama wants to smile pretty about high speed rail. Ridership wasn't going to pay the bills which means Florida, not the feds, would have had to take up the slack. If Obama cared about jobs, instead of running for 2012, he would let states use the money for other Infrastructure projects. But he doesn't, so he doesn't.
    Hell it was going to cost each rider $30 to $60, well more then what they would pay driving.

    February 16, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Cedar Rapids

    'That's right Ray, don't let all that borrowed Chinese money go unborrowed. Please make sure you continue to expand the failed Amtrak money pit model all over the country. How many billions are we losing on that albatross every year? This is why the Democrats need to be removed from office. Failure after failure after failure and yet they keep proposing MORE FAILURE.'
    Yeah, instead give it to those repubs that said they still wanted the money but hey, its only the democrats spending the money in your world right?

    February 16, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    We'll take the money in CT! We need it to upgrade the Northeast Corridor (the most heavily-traveled commuter rail system in the country) so all those rich Wall Street types don't have to pay what the real cost of rail transportation is from their homes in Fairfield County to Wall Street! That way the taxes they are not paying can continue to support their work and life styles.

    February 16, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. IllinoisDem

    I'm sorry maybe I'm confused because the Governor of a state should be more versed in this subject than an average citizen from another state, but what does he think the money is for? To spend frivolously on landscaping?! That's money to pay WORKERS to build the stupid trains. How are you going to put people back to work if you pass on this gigantic opportunity to better your state through infrastructure creation? Not to mention how many jobs would be created once the rails were completed and the money that would be brought in from patrons! That's like a being offered a job promotion and turning it down because you want to make more money...It just doesn't make sense. What is wrong with him!? Nice job Mr. Governor

    February 16, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Turnabout is Fair Play

    I live in the Tampa Bay area and have to drive the slow crawl at Malfunction Junction of I-275 & I-4. I guarantee Mr. "I am Legend" there doesn't realize how frustrating and irritating that is! Oh wait, he has a driver who shuttles him around and a private jet so he doesn't have to suffer like us less rich Americans struggling to get to and from work everyday. A high-speed rail would have allowed people to lighten the load on Tampa's interstates and would have made working in Orlando a possibility but that's out the damn door now! Nice job voting this maggot into office dumb@sses!

    February 16, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. patty

    I would love to see high speed rail. Once you get where you are going , rent a car, more money for car rentals, go out to eat. more money for restaurants. More money for attractions as people can move around quicker and better. I see lots of extra long term jobs from this. too bad there are such short sighted people running the state

    February 16, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Dave Harris

    Of course, it doesn't matter to this governor that the voters voted for this as an amendment to the Florida constitution. Can he just arbitrarily decide he's going to nullify our vote? He doesn't seem to know who's boss. He may find out, since people are already talking about impeachment.

    February 16, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. mane

    I thought a project of this magnitude will create jobs and help the people of Florida. What happened to the act of governing and working for the people instead of one's political career? Thats what happens when you have a lot of people hanging out on the beaches instead of paying attention to whats happening in their neck of the wood.

    February 16, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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