Scott rejects federal rail funds for Florida
February 16th, 2011
12:27 PM ET
11 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. ReFascistican/ConservaFascists

    Florida is a tourist state and the governor is STUPID for refusing the money. I sure will like to travel on rail from Orlando to Daytona, or from Jacksonville to Miami to Tampa. Your loss Floridians.

    February 16, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. XWngLady

    Nice...Reject the funds that come from Florida taxpayer dollars intended to improve transportation and infrastructure in FL. Gotta love it.

    February 16, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Duane Kimball

    Most first world countries have high speed rail. China uses it do get its workers from the country to city jobs. It is radically reducing their air pollution. Florida's tourism industry and business infrastructure is going to take a big hit. Just that much more for other states. Good luck to them.

    February 16, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Vet in TX

    I wonder how many jobs building, servicing, running, advertising, etc. this project could have created. The voters of New Jersey and Florida will put them out. All for grandstanding to a appease a small group just so they can yell "you tell DC what to do". The next election cycle will be very interesting when the GOP and TP have reinvent themselves once again. The funniest part is the followers don't realize that their only purpose was to keep certain businesses from having to pay for carbon emissions. The defunding of the EPA is really their only driving purpose once the lame duck session passed the tax cuts. If your passing up on this to save your state 3 billion of projected and assumed cost overages, I'm pretty sure that the revenue the state will receive from this is substantially much more. Business men/women do not belong in government. I'll bet his previous employments industry is benefiting from his new position, lets' see what FLORIDA CONSTITUENTS say on the ticker today. Hilarious.

    February 16, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Name Creole

    I was always told be careful what you ask for. If you vote them all in the Repuno Party of NO!!!! You are what you EAT LOL!!!!!!! I'm a Dem and I am sitting back Laughing at all this crazyness!!!!! This is real SAD.....OBAMA 2012

    February 16, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    WOW! Just because it is Obama that is trying to put us at par with the rest of the world.
    All RethugliKKKlan governors toeing the Party line in "Just Say No!" even if it means that your state will lag behind and not get the jobs that this rail system would bring. Make your constituents suffer, at least the low and middle class ones, because the RethugliKKKlan Party sees them as expendable pawns in their quest to bring Obama to his knees. JOBS BE DAMNED! And you have the nerve to call our President 'arrogant' and 'egotistical'?

    Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida,and New Jersey collectively saying to their cittizenry: Party before Country. Party Before Jobs.
    Heil Hitler!!!!
    You all must be sooo proud.

    February 16, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. thomas

    Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott knows very well the importance of high speed rail and the future of commerce and transportation. He also knows by his grandstanding obstructionism the project will cost twice as much by the time his state decides modernize.

    February 16, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. redneondot

    Yet the hypocrite won't refuse federal funding for road infrastructure. Oh well, backwards Florida, you get what you vote for.

    February 16, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Dean

    I think that Democrats are just shocked that a politician is actually keeping a campaign promise. They're used to liars like Obama...saying one thing to get elected, and then offering up legislation that's the exact opposite.

    February 16, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. ART

    I thaught Max Hedroom was over.

    February 16, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Bigge

    And for you people concerned about the budget, please add your idea's to your post...It pretty easy to post comments like ( passing the buck by not presenting a real-budget to meet todays reality). What are your issues with the budget and what would you do...less complaints and more solutions....

    February 16, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ....But they want to use the rail money for something else. Like what for example? Campaign headquarters? Lobbyists? Tea 'parties'? I wouldn't be surprised. Remember Bush kept BILLIONS off the books to fund his Iraq massacre, you don't think these governors can re-channel misappropriated state funds? Think again.

    February 16, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. mike

    good! here in CA we can use that money for HS rail. I guess FL doesn't need anything but cars but out here we do.

    February 16, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Marcus

    OBAMA – One Big Arse Mistake America – The money IS FOR HIGH_SPEED TRAINS, dude. There's no way it can be used but on HST projects. If Florida (represented by RScott) doesn't want it, fine. But the money WILL be used on HST projects.

    Rickster – Typicall argument that someone who takes TEN years of Economic studies and yet doesn't manage to fit the world to his/her theories/ideas about what 'economy' is. But then again, you are for the 'tax cuts' and against the CBO, aren't you?

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

    Government means people. Without people the government can not exist. The government does for its people what it thinks is essential. I do wonder what Scott is doing for the government (people)!!!

    February 16, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Just tell the WH to "shove it".

    February 16, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Regan

    Gotta love all the big-government liberals bemoaning NOT using more deficit spending. One only needs to look at various Minnesota rail projects. Yes, funded in part by the feds but cost-overruns, ongoing expenses to run it, and less ridership than anticipated all have driven that state into the red.

    February 16, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Bigge

    So what some of you are saying the high speed rail would not create jobs ranging from construction to touristism.. Florida still depends on touristism for cash flow, correct ? Rickster, are you sure you have taken an economics class in college, this sounds like a no brainer....

    February 16, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. terry, va

    The fastest rail system in this country is 69MPH and almost all lose big bucks. People transportation railroads are as stupid as the so called green energy movement. Railroads to ship supplies and goods are ok. When you can show a profit, I'll listen. Obummie crawl out from under your desk, get some sense and balance the budget. Your budget doubles our national debt. I guess you have to keep pandering to the deadbeats in this country to get votes. No more hand outs !!!!!

    February 16, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Recall Scott Walker

    Same thing happened in Wisconsin, and as we speak there are probably 50k people protesting another stupid thing the WI Gov. is doing. I hope we can recall him in January.

    February 16, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    SO BE IT – for the 200,000 jobs lost according to Boehner!!
    SO BE IT – for the jobs that would have been created in construction work!!
    SO BE IT – they don't care about the JOB NUMBERS – their goal is to make President Obama a 1-term President!!!
    SO BE IT – the unemployment will RISE and the RepubliCAN'Ts feel the president will be blamed for it!!
    HELL NO WE WON'T – invest in our infrastructure and try to WIN THE FUTURE!!
    OH YES WE CAN – continue to give tax breaks for the rich – raise taxes on the poor – take a close LQQK at the budget planned by the RepubliCAN'Ts – pathetic!!!

    What about the people who pay taxes in Florida????? Blame your governor for being a Stupid Idiot!!!

    Take the money back and use it for windmills or other projects that would MOVE AMERICA FORWARD!!!

    Christie – the GREAT RepubliCAN’T HOPE – does NOT have all of the answers…..YOU WILL SEE!!!

    February 16, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. lisaspups

    Yeah, Rickster, the way we have been running our economy up until now - without any regard to the environmental cost - has served us so well up until now. Status quo. That will get us, uh, NOWHERE!

    February 16, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. dawgdays

    Finally, someone with some smarts. This rail project was unneeded in such a low density area as central Florida. It would never pay for itself, it would not relieve congested roads and it would be a tax drain on the state from here on out just as the south Florida rail is. There are a thousand much better, much cheaper ways to move people than rail. How about a fleet of hybrid buses running in HOV lanes with stops at the same stops that rail would have had. Move the same number of riders at a fraction of the cost and with more flexible times. Passenger rail is dead and thank goodness.

    February 16, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Brian

    Dummy. it is your money and you are saying you do not want it back, how contradictory to your belief!

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

    Very short sighted. I'm sure if it were a Republican president giving the money, he'd take it. Anyway, more for those states who want it and want to work!

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