Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida will be rejecting $2.4 billion of your money earmarked by President Obama to build a high speed rail from Orlando to Tampa.
Governor Scott’s press release cites numerous reasons why this project makes no sense, not the least of which are that Florida would have to come up with $280 million in “matching funds”, (which it doesn’t have), plus any cost overruns, (of which there are sure to be many). Further, the state would be on the hook for future operating deficits, which are guaranteed. As to this last point, the Governor said,
It is projected that 3.07 million people will use the [Orlando/Tampa] train annually. Keep in mind that Amtrak’s Acela train in Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore only had 3.2 million riders in 2010. And that market’s population is 8 times the size of the Tampa/Orlando market. [emphasis supplied]
In his letter to Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, the Governor lists a multitude of other transportation projects that Florida could actually use the money to build, but, sadly, under President Obama’s plan, it’s shiny new trains, or nothing.
Unfortunately, for all of us, those funds will not be used to reduce our $13 trillion deficit, but will rather be spread around among other states that have no problem burdening their residents with “matching funds”, sizable cost overruns, and continuing operating deficits to build and maintain trains to nowhere.