Just a damn minute, Florida. Just because you guys are wising up to how big a tax burden this HSR project is about to be in your state doesn't give you the right to dump that rejected federal funding on us in California.
We may not be smart enough to get the real implications of all this "free" money, but you shouldn't be taking advantage of our stupidity. (I'm kidding of course.) Florida may reject the stimulus funds, but can't control what happens to it afterward. God forbid that it should be spent -- FOR JOBS, WASHINGTON -- on something other than HSR in Florida.
We've already been given some of the ARRA stimulus funding refused by Wisconsin and Ohio. Those states certainly outfoxed us. (Kidding again.) Ohio and Wisconsin were awarded stimulus funds to help their economy and create jobs. It is either a perverse, or politically motivated decision (or both) on the part of Ray LaHood to rescind those funds and deploy them in other states.
Let me state, parenthetically, that the High-Speed Rail "vision" and program emanating from Washington reeks of politics, earmarks, pork and boondoggles.
Of course, our CHSRA thinks that all this federal bonus funding is the greatest thing since sliced bread. That's because they can spread that peanut-butter around worthy political districts more lavishly. Meanwhile, their public relations machine (for which we paid $9 million) is grinding out the kind of blather that suggests we are more worthy than anyone else, because we are Californians who were sold a bill of goods at the 2008 elections.
Dockery: Haridopolos’ high-speed reversal meant to sow confusion
Posted by Aaron Deslatte on January, 11 2011 12:34 PM
TALLAHASSEE — Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ sudden reversal on whether Florida should press forward with a high-speed rail project slated to create 24,000 jobs by connecting Orlando and Tampa is starting to draw some heat.
Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, one of the supporters of the high-speed rail project in a December 2009 special session to pave the way for Central Florida’s commuter rail line, said last week he doesn’t think any state taxpayer money should go to the project.
The federal government has already chipped in $2.4 billion out of the $2.7 billion total construction cost, and the Florida Department of Transportation is set to ask a handful of international investors for proposals to build and operate the train later this spring.
Whichever consortium of companies wins the bid would ultimately be on the hook if the costs go over-budget or ridership doesn’t meet the expectations, DOT Assistant Secretary Kevin Thibault told the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday. But if the state doesn’t come up with the $280 million — either from taxpayers or private investors — the state will have to give up that $2.4 billion, and it will likely get re-directed to California for their rail projects, Thibault said.
Gov. Rick Scott wants private investors to fund that remaining $280 million portion, and Thibault said several of them had expressed willingness to pick up some or all of that in their proposals that would be due this fall. But Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said Tuesday that Haridopolos’ shift on the topic was sending them the wrong message.
Dockery was a die-hard opponent to the $1.2 billion SunRail project because it leaves Florida taxpayers financially liable for the costs of the rail if ridership slumps or construction goes over-budget. But the high-speed rail project has more protections for Florida taxpayers, she said, and should be the project that “fiscal conservatives” support — a veiled shot at Haridopolos, who she said is trying to rile up tea party angst over the project he once supported.
“Reversing his position was astounding to me because he was pushing [rail] in the special session, stating we have to have Sunrail to get high-speed rail,” Dockery said Tuesday. ”If he was willing to obligate the taxpayers to $2.66 billion for SunRail [over 30 years] to get the money for high speed rail, then why abandon high speed rail? I think he’s counting on the public to be confused over the two projects.”
The line in the planning stages for years would stretch 84 miles between downtown Tampa and the Orlando International Airport, and travel at a top speed of 168 miles per-hour, making the total trip about 43 minutes long. Construction on the high-speed train is expected to start in 2012, and the train would be running in 2015 or 2016.
Seven teams of international firms from France, Spain, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. are likely to compete for the business. Japanese representatives met with Scott about the project Saturday in Tallahassee.
But Dockery said raising the question of whether the Orlando-to-Tampa line would go forward was likely to have a chilling effect on how much money the competing companies were willing to bid.
“The more you drag this on and make it look like it might not happen, the less enthusiastic they are about bringing money to the table,” she said.