Of all the strange things Republicans hate, the GOP's siderodromophobia may be the hardest to explain. Spend tens of billions on highways? Yeah! Spend a fraction of that amount on trains? Boo! Maybe it's just that they like seeing their names on all those highway construction signs. Or maybe it's that modern trains are clean and efficient -- two things that Republicans can't stand.
In any case, three weeks ago Florida Gov. Rick Scott said no thanks to $2.4 billion that had been awarded to his state for a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. He claimed that he did so because he worried that tax payers could be stuck paying the money back if the line failed... which is odd, since he'd been told that would not happen.
But Scott licked the envelope and mailed back that giant check -- giving away thousands of jobs in the process.
Which could mean that Floridians won't be too keen on the just completed study that says not only would they not have been on the hook for big payments, the rail line would have been profitable from day one.
Three weeks after Gov. Rick Scott put the brakes on high-speed rail, the Florida Department of Transportation on Wednesday released a study showing the line connecting Tampa to Orlando would have had a $10.2 million operating surplus in 2015, its first year of operation.
The study showed the line would have had a $28.6 million surplus in its 10th year.
So, Rick Scott turned down not only $2.4 billion in direct stimulus for the state, but another $150 million over the next ten years. Plus Floridians miss out on a piece of infrastructure which would have been handy for them, and would have lured additional tourists to the state (which just might
be important in Florida).
Ahh, well. That's the nice thing about having those 50 states to deal with, not all of them elected a governor who flees in terror from Thomas the Tank Engine.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is expected to announce by the end of the week which states will receive Florida’s money. According to an attorney for the governor, the state had already spent about $110 million on the project when Scott announced that he did not want to go forward with it.
If Scott hadn't turned down that rail line, the $100 million would have been repaid in just a few years of operation, but now it's just an unpaid burden on the taxpayers, exactly the sort of things Scott said he was trying to avoid.
But remember, just like in Wisconsin, it's all about the budget.
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