Official Statement by Mayor Pam Iorio - High Speed Rail

03/18/15

Over the past week leaders from the Tampa and Orlando business communities and elected officials from the federal, state and local levels have been working to address the concerns expressed by Florida Governor Rick Scott relating to High Speed Rail. Working together, we successfully created a plan with supporting legal analysis that outlined how we could address the Governor’s concerns, privatize the High Speed Rail plan, and protect the Florida taxpayer from risk. (The documents pertaining to the creation of the new entity and the protections for taxpayers are being disseminated to the public through the media).

Despite talks with the Governor’s staff since Monday, and despite the validity of the arguments for the privatization of the High Speed Rail project, Governor Scott will not allow the project to move forward. His reasoning does not take into account the work that has been done in the past week, which lays out a clear path for private investment and risk responsibility. The facts are clear: we have addressed his concerns on risk – the risk will fall to the private sector.

The most disturbing part of the Governor’s decision is that he will not even allow the bid process to take place. In effect, the message being sent to eight world-wide business consortiums across the globe and the United States is don’t bother. As a mayor who cares about economic development and the encouragement of investment by the private sector, I can not understand or justify his stance. Only the private sector can answer the question of the viability of the project; their willingness to invest and absorb the risk would illuminate the entire issue.

What has become clear in the last week is just how strong the relationship is between Tampa, Orlando and the I-4 corridor -- the Super Region. In a compressed timeframe everyone worked together toward a common goal, gathered the facts, and created a structure that protected taxpayers and placed the risk with the private sector. Though this project is not being allowed to move forward, I have great optimism about the future relationship of this Super Region for we are united in a common goal of progress.

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