NPR logo Florida's Scott Turns Away $2.4 Billion For Rail Project


Florida's Scott Turns Away $2.4 Billion For Rail Project

Florida's governor has told the U.S. government that his state doesn't want $2.4 billion in stimulus funds that were intended for its high-speed rail project, sparking anger in a state coping with high unemployment and a lingering real estate crisis.

Gov. Rick Scott gave U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood permission to give the money to other states, saying Florida instead will focus on other infrastructure programs.

For Newscast, Florida Public Radio's Trimmel Gomes filed this report from Tallahassee:

Republican State Senator Thad Altman says he's outraged, and the people of Florida should be just the same.

"Our leader has taken $2.4 billion of our hard earned tax money, and he's going to ship it to California. He should be fighting for Floridians, not Californians."

In a last-ditch bipartisan effort, Altman sued the governor, arguing he had to accept the money. However, the Florida Supreme Court upheld Scott's authority to reject the funds.

Scott has long said he's afraid that Florida taxpayers may be on the hook for billions in cost overruns. The governor tried to switch the focus to other projects, by announcing plans to fund a Miami port dredging project that he says will create 30,000 jobs.

Florida's share of the price for the high-speed rail system was estimated at $300 million. In addition to the lawsuit, Orlando, Tampa and other Florida cities had tried to work out a plan to reduce the state's obligation, but their plan failed to convince Scott.