High-speed rail won't be coming to Florida anytime soon, if ever. And Florida taxpayers may be saved hundreds of millions of dollars.
Gov. Rick Scott rejected the federal governments $2.4 billion subsidy for Tampa to Orlando passenger line, calling it a “high-risk” project. The decision appeared to be a triumph of Scott's principles over political expediency, as business groups and many Republicans favored the rail project.
In his announcement this morning, Scott cited “three main economic realities” that led to his decision.
Scott fears that taxpayers would have to cover capital cost overruns of $3 billion, plus be on the hook for ongoing operating subsidies. The state already subsidizes southeast Florida's Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year.
And if the project became too costly for taxpayers and had to be shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion to the federal government.
Instead, Scott say, “ ... we should be focusing on improving our ports, rail and highway infrastructure to be in a position to attract the increased shipping that will result when the Panama Canal is expanded ....”
Scott cited a Florida Chamber of Commerce study claiming that investing in seaports and expanding export markets can create 143,000 jobs.