High-Speed Rail: Access Denied

Recently, the Famuan published an opinions article on how high-speed rail can be beneficial to the state of Florida. 

Obviously, Gov. Rick Scott didn’t get that edition of the paper, or skimmed over the article, because he denied the $2.4 billion the federal government was willing to pay for the construction of the high-speed rail. 

Even though Scott initially denied the money and is still dead set against the initiative, there would have been a way to get the trains moving in Florida without Scott’s approval. Lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, opposing Scott’s decision.

Unfortunately, that fell through as well when Republican 
Sen. Greg Evers changed his mind and reversed his decision to sign the letter sent to LaHood last week.

This dropped the 26 votes needed to go around Scott down to an ineffective 25. Way to go, Evers. 

Even a meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson couldn’t change Scott’s mind about the high-speed rail.

For some reason, he had convinced Nelson and other lawmakers that maybe he would reconsider. But, Scott promptly stated shortly after that he would not accept the money nor approve of the high-speed rail being built. 

His reasoning? He stated in his weekly radio address that it basically boiled down to economic reasons. 

Now, I’m not going to say I totally agree with Scott’s reasoning, because I don’t. But one reason he gave stuck out to me: “If the project becomes too costly and is shut down, Florida would have to return the $2.4 billion to D.C.” 

Who’s to say that if he does accept the money that this could happen?

Of course accepting $2.4 billion to partially pay for the high-speed rail and have Florida’s taxpayers pay the difference, roughly about $3 billion, on something that could potentially collapse if done incorrectly is a risk, but what are those odds?

So far, not even Scott can answer that question in his “reasoning” for denying the money. Clearly, he doesn’t want anything to do with it.

With the high-speed rail the pros outweigh the cons. It could create on average about 1,000 jobs, shorten travel distances and lessen the traffic between Tampa and Orlando for millions of commuters every day. 

What is so wrong with that? In my book, absolutely nothing. If Scott is so bent on “getting to work,” then finding ways to help the workers of “his”- I use that word loosely- state shouldn’t be a problem.

He should be jumping on the notion of Florida gaining the high-speed rail to help Floridians. 

High-speed rail would help boost Florida’s economy, albeit it would be at the expense of taxpayers.

But in Scott’s mind- “This federal high-speed rail program is not the answer to Florida’s economic recovery.”

That just makes me wonder, “How do you know this for sure Mr. Governor?” Maybe I should ask him one day… 

Even though Scott has essentially “put his foot down,” there is always a way around a shut a door. It’s called a window.

One suggestion is to create a separate independent agency to own and manage the project.

Let’s give that a try.

But in the end, it’s best for us Floridians to sit back, relax and see how wide this window opens for HSR.