California is in the news again…

This time about high speed rail. Read more

Can’t we just be China for a day?

Remember that “marvelous” statement by New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, not that long ago?  Well, he just might get his wish. Read more

Take my shiny new train…please

We did a post last week about Florida Governor Rick Scott rejecting $2.4 billion of your money “granted” to the state to build a high speed rail between Orlando International Airport and Tampa.  After the Governor’s decision, Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, announced that he would give Florida until today to “reconsider”.

Yesterday, Governor Scott politely said “no” again, as he said he had seen nothing in the interim that would convince him that Florida taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for the assured cost overruns from construction, and the assured deficits from operation.

So, today, Mr. LaHood gave Florida yet another week to “reconsider” the decision.

The federal government is broke.  The state of Florida is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit.  Meanwhile, this administration seems oblivious to those facts. 

Shiny trains aren’t the answer.  Fiscal responsibility is.

My Governor has guts

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.

Your money and high-speed rail

Remember all of the hoopla earlier this year when President Obama gave your money away to various states to build high speed trains?  Well, sanity has prevailed, at least in two states.  Last week, the newly elected Republican governors of Ohio and Wisconsin said no thank you to $1.2 billion, and “returned” it to the federal government.

Given the size of our deficit, one would have thought that the money would have remained in the government’s coffers, but, no.  The money was “redistributed” to other states who had already received money to build high-speed rails, and, “lucky” for us in Florida, we will now receive all but 10% of the funds necessary to build our high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa.

I did a post earlier this year on Obama’s “gift” to Florida, but in the interim, two things have happened.  In November, the voters in Tampa rejected a one cent increase in the sales tax that was to be used to pay for the infrastructure to get from the “Tampa” station to, well, anyplace actually in Tampa.  And second, Florida’s Republican governor elect, Rick Scott, has said he first wants a feasibility study to determine whether the project can provide a “return to taxpayers”.   Imagine that…an elected official who is concerned about the decades of taxpayer subsidies that will be necessary to keep this boondoggle afloat if it is built. 

And, Mr. Scott has reason to be concerned.

The problem is that high-speed rail systems almost always run over budget and end up heavily subsidized.  Only two segments of two such railways in the world, in France and Japan, have broken even, and they are in high-density areas…[emphasis supplied]

But, these facts haven’t deterred the fiscally sound State of California, also a recipient of federal high-speed rail funds.  Their high-speed rail authority recently approved construction of that state’s first venture into high-speed rail…the 65 mile stretch between the booming cities of Borden and Corcoran, at an estimated cost of $4.15 billion.  So, not only will your federal tax dollars pay for this nonsense, but, when California goes bankrupt, as it most assuredly will, your federal tax dollars will pay to keep it running.

Florida is getting a what?

President Obama was in Tampa, Florida Thursday announcing that he is so concerned about the mounting federal deficit that he will spend $1.25 billion of your hard earned money to help build a high speed train that will run between Orlando International Airport and downtown Tampa.  As a Floridian, thank you America.

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