By Lone SharkIt’s not often that common sense and fiscal discipline wins the day at any level of government, but Governor Rick Scott deserves big kudos from you (and your kids if you have them) for doing the right thing for Florida and its long-term fiscal health, as he effectively killed the so-called High-Speed Rail (HSR) project which was planned to connect Tampa to Orlando. Governor Scott, like most other clear thinking people who understand the value of a dollar and what a cost/benefit analysis is, looked over the horizon and saw that Florida would have been saddled with an enormous long term fiscal loser in exchange for what?- maybe 20,000 jobs over the next five years, many of them temporary, that would be paid for with more borrowed federal money. Consider it yet another “stimulus” project that wouldn’t stimulate anything but our debt and the growth of government.
It’s a pretty good bet that either a Governor McCollum or a Governor Sink would have approved the HSR project regardless of its bleak long term fiscal projections, as that’s the very short-term thinking we’ve come to expect from politicians of all stripes. But as is typically the case in government, no good deed goes unpunished, and Scott is getting blowback from every direction, including a somewhat unexpected source, as a veto-proof group of State Senators have issued a public rebuke of Scott’s decision to kill HSR.
It’s almost embarrassing to read the letter this group of 26 State Senators sent to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood practically begging him not to give these rejected federal monies to another state as if it were somehow their birthright. Their letter deadpans that “Politics should have no place in the future of Florida’s transportation, as evidenced by this letter of bipartisan support.”
Come again, Senators? Governor Scott’s decision to kill HSR is based on his very sober cost/benefit analysis of the project. You can agree or disagree with Governor Scott’s decision, but your support of HSR is as every bit “political” as his decision was to kill the project.
With 14 trillion dollars of federal debt hanging over our heads and deficits as far as the eye can see, anyone who put their signature on the letter should be ashamed, particularly its Republican signatories who talk about fiscal restraint when it’s convenient and yet somehow seem to think that borrowed federal dollars grow on trees. It should go without saying, but major government expenditures such as these should live or die based on a rigorous cost/benefit analysis, and this project in particular should never have been viewed as a foregone conclusion simply because a Passenger Rail Commission was already established.
“The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits.” – Governor Rick Scott
Incredibly ignorant commentary is also popping up in response to Scott’s decision to nix the HSR project. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino opined that “Florida may just need a natural disaster for its own good…because it’s becoming clear that our new governor, Rick Scott, thinks that federal partnerships are, by definition, evil.”
Aside from Cerabino’s reprehensible comment, it’s clear he doesn’t have a clue about what the proper role of the federal government should be vis-a-vis state government. Can’t he understand the cosmic difference between the assistance that the federal government provides the states in a natural disaster versus foisting a terrible long term investment on the residents of Florida? Obviously not.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter here- it would have been an epic waste of money for Florida taxpayers to pay untold billions so that a limited number of people could save 20 minutes of travel time on a typical one hour and fifteen minute drive from Tampa to Orlando. High Speed Rail projects are guaranteed fiscal losers that will never come close to sustaining themselves by user fees alone. As the State of Wisconsin is rightfully standing up to its public sector unions, now is the time for Floridians get Governor Scott’s back and stand up to misguided federal transportation initiatives. A bipartisan coalition is already seeking to bypass the Governor’s decision. When will our public officials finally realize the unquestioned fiscal party at taxpayer expense is over?
“I hate to say it, but Florida may just need a natural disaster for its own good. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic. A simple state of emergency may be enough to do the trick. Because it’s becoming clear that our new governor, Rick Scott, thinks that federal partnerships are, by definition, evil. And it just might be that without proper treatment, this psychological condition will continue to exist among him and his not-so-merry band of delusional pretend-patriots until Republican control is fully restored to Washington. In the meantime, the rest of us have to suffer along with a politically useful 1776 fairy tale story.” – Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post