In a move that has astounded politicians of both parties throughout Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has passed on $2 billion in federal funding for a high speed rail system linking Orlando and Tampa.
Although this is not technically a piece of legislation, and there questions about the Republican governor’s constitutional authority to unilaterally reject the funding, I can’t think of a single Florida politician who has proposed an idea that is more ridiculous than this.
Florida’s unemployment rate has risen to 12 percent; it’s been higher than 10 percent for at least two years now. Florida has some of the highest mortgage and credit card delinquency rates in the country. There are few states with a higher foreclosure rate. The state’s economy, which has relied on construction, agriculture and tourism, is in shambles.
According to a recent Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll, 43 percent of Floridians feel their economic situation has worsened over the last two years.
And yet Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned on bringing jobs to the state, has refused a project estimated to bring up to 23,000 jobs, with thousands more created indirectly. He’s ignoring that the installation of the first high speed rail line in the United States could also bring Florida to the attention of large businesses wishing to move to a mass transit-friendly area. He’s neglecting the possible adverse effects that heavy traffic along the I-4 corridor have to the economy.
The economic growth caused by connecting two of the Florida’s biggest cities is hard to calculate but easy to imagine.
Plus, Scott seems to be deaf, even to his own party.