Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our daily dose of HSR discord

John Mica, interviewed by "StreetsBlog.Org" on March 1, 2011.  When speaking of "Republicans," why does John Mica say "they" instead of "we?" Just to remind you, John Mica is the Republican Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House. 

John Mica: "Republicans are most interested in cost-effectiveness. What they’ve seen are some wasteful projects. They’ve seen the administration take an $8 billion appropriation for high-speed rail and turn it into a Christmas tree, and many people are now returning the ornaments. I think Republicans will support sound infrastructure projects; they just have to be evaluated on a cost-effective basis."

Governor Rick Scott of Florida has been under enormous pressure from a number of sources.  One is DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, who is defending the President's high-speed rail vision with what amounts to desperation.  Two Governors rejecting the project for their states is bad enough, but three Governors makes it a national issue and challenges the entire concept.  No wonder LaHood has worked so hard to get Scott to reverse his position.

The other source of pressure is from the Florida legislators, two of whom are suing the Governor to accept the federal HSR funds.  

As we all know so well by now, for most Democrats this high-speed rail federal funding is less about trains and whether they are or aren't a waste of money, as it is about the money itself and the myth that clings to it that it will create all those thousands of jobs and pump up the state's economy.

What my Democratic colleagues close their eyes to is that these federal funds necessarily trigger far more state funding that the state can't afford. [Edit. As in Florida, so in California.]

Of course all this is, in a real sense, besides the point.  The point is that building HSR in the US, with the possible exception of the NEC, is indeed a stunning waste of money.

Scott files terse response to high-speed rail petition

Scott argues the Florida Supreme Court's involvement would ''violate nearly every separation of powers.''

Published: March 2, 2011
Updated: 46 min. ago

TAMPA - Facing a deadline of noon today, Gov. Rick Scott filed a terse 20-page response to a petition filed Tuesday to the Florida Supreme Court that seeks to force Scott to accept the $2.4 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail.

In the response, Scott says that state Sens. Arthenia Joyner and Thad Altman, who filed the petition, have turned to the court because they "have not prevailed in the political process."

Scott argues they want the court "to step into, and take over, the planning, implementation, and operation of a proposed high-speed rail line."

After maintaining as he has for weeks that "the high-speed rail project is not wise policy" that will "ultimately prove detrimental to the taxpayers of this state," Scott argues the court's involvement would "violate nearly every separation-of-powers principle" and would "further complicate and confuse a complex policy decision that the political branches are much better equipped to handle."

Joyner and Altman have until 4 p.m. today to file a response.