A fter a series of political volleys on Feb. 25 between Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who proffered a week’s extension of the U.S. DOT’s deadline for accepting federal funding for a $2.7-billion high-speed-rail line, the governor showed no signs of changing his opinion and approving a deal.
On Feb. 25, the original deadline for Florida, media reports said the governor was rejecting a second proposal that provided for a Tampa-Orlando line. That latest proposal created an interlocal entity to oversee the project and shield the state from liability. Scott initially rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding for the project on Feb. 16.
On Feb. 25, however, LaHood announced that he had met with Gov. Scott, who agreed to reconsider the proposal, and extended the deadline for another week.
“We owe it to the people of Florida who have been working to bring high-speed rail to their state for the last 20 years to go the extra mile,” LaHood said in a statement.
Gov. Scott quickly countered with an update on his Facebook page.
“My position on high-speed rail remains unchanged. I believe high-speed rail is a federal boondoggle, as I said more than a week ago. This morning, I communicated to Secretary LaHood that as long as Florida remains on the hook for cost overruns, operating costs and paybacks in the case of default, I will vigorously oppose this project. … I have yet to see any proposal that accomplishes my goal of eliminating risk to Florida’s taxpayers,” the posting read.
It also was reported that Florida lawmakers were considering legal action that challenges the governor’s authority to reject the project. Last year, the state Legislature enacted a law authorizing the project and creating an entity to oversee it.