Official Statement issued by Mayor Pam Iorio - Governor Scott?s decision to stop the High Speed Rail Project
I am terribly disappointed in Governor Rick Scott’s decision to stop the High Speed Rail project. It is a bad decision for all Floridians.
The facts do not support his decision. This project would have provided benefits far into the 21st century. My main points are:
- The Governor has basically given $2.3 billion of federal money to another state that will gladly accept the funding and use it for infrastructure. Remember that Floridians currently pay a portion of the gas tax that goes into this $2.3 billion. Therefore the tax money of Floridians will go to support transit in another state.
- We all talk about the importance of public-private partnerships. This was a true public-private partnership. The private sector was prepared to bid on the system, build it, and operate it. The Governor made a decision without even having the benefit of receiving those bids. His approach is a clear message to this segment of the private sector - don’t invest in Florida, which is a terrible message to send to business.
- One of the reasons why unemployment is so high in the Tampa Bay area is because of the lack of construction jobs. This project was truly shovel ready and would have produced construction jobs right away. We have just missed a real opportunity to put people back to work in our state.
- Finally, this project was about 21st century investments. How do we get around the state of Florida in the coming decades? On an interstate system designed in the 1950s? On a reliance on the aviation industry? This would have produced an alternative method of transportation that linked all of our major metropolitan areas - Tampa - Orlando - Miami and Jacksonville. The alternative is the status quo, which really means that our state goes backwards. This is unacceptable.
We have missed an opportunity to make a long-term investment in our state that would have reaped major economic benefits. Even if you never rode the high-speed rail, we all benefit from having our tax money invested in Florida instead of in other states. We all benefit from a reduction in unemployment. We all benefit from encouraging the private sector to invest in our economy. The Governor’s decision is a missed opportunity for progress.