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Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner didn’t shed one of many tears at the prospect of his proposing spending cuts destroying 200,000 jobs. Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott single-handedly killed long-standing plans to build a high-speed rail system in his state, destroying 24,000 jobs.
Gov. Scott didn’t destroy these jobs reluctantly. His back was not against a fiscal wall. He killed the project by rejecting federal funds.
He is not closing any state budget gap. He is not saving Florida taxpayers money. He is only failing to create more Florida taxpayers.
He claimed, of course, that he was saving the state taxpayers billions and protecting them from cost overruns. But that was false.
As The Transport Politic notes, “The project’s construction would have required $280 million in state aid to be completed, but projections had indicated that the line would cover its own operating costs.” And as Robert Cruickshank explains, cost overruns would have covered by private companies.
That’s not a partisan argument. That point was stressed by the top Republican on the U.S. House transportation committee, fellow Floridian John Mica: “I have urged the Governor to reconsider going forward and allow the private sector to assume the risk and any future costs for the project … With the federal government assuming 90% of the cost of the project, I am disappointed the private sector will not have an opportunity to even offer innovative proposals to help finance the balance of the costs and to construct and operate this system.”
This is an unfortunate setback not just for Florida, but for the nation. The Florida component of the President’s high-speed rail plan was the most “shovel-ready” rail link and best opportunity.for America to have a 150 MPH train by the end of a second term for President Obama.
But even though America will now have to wait longer for high-speed rail, the upside is that the federal funds once marked for Florida high-speed rail will simply be redirected to other high-speed rail projects. The President still has his six-year budget proposal to invest $53 billion to keep building up his vision for a nationwide high-speed rail network, part of an infrastructure investment estimated to create 15,000,000 jobs.
Conservative Republican leaders this year still haven’t proposed one idea to create one job. But they’ve quickly become experts at destroying jobs. It appears to be a labor of love.