America

Florida Can Reject Federal Money For High Speed Rail

The Florida State Supreme Court just issued a short ruling that effectively gives Gov. Rick Scott's the authority to turn down billions in federal money to build a fast railroad line that would link Tampa and Orlando. The Orlando Sentinel reports the judges rejected a lawsuit by two state senators demanding Scott accept $2.4 billion to build the rail link.

As NPR's Greg Allen reported for Morning Edition, the governor believed the rail project put Florida taxpayers at risk:

Scott: The circled data shows capital cost overruns are pervasive in nine of 10 high-risk, high-speed rail projects, and that two-thirds of those projects inflated revenue projections by an average of 65 percent of actual patronage.

Critics say Scott is mistaken about the risk to taxpayers because the federal money would have covered 90 percent of the costs and investors were willing to support it further. Scott will have a chance to explain himself to President Obama, who's traveling to Florida today to discuss education with former Gov. Jeb Bush. Politico reports Obama arrives about 2:40.

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