Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nelson urges Scott to accept federal rail money

Of course he does.

From Ted Jackovics of The Tampa Tribune on Nov. 9:
ORLANDO - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Monday to accept $2.05 billion in federal funds that have been authorized for the Tampa-Lakeland-Orlando high-speed rail project, which Nelson said has fallen "under a cloud of uncertainty."

Speaking to more than 1,800 representatives from small businesses to international companies at the opening day of a two-day high-speed rail forum, Nelson said the project represents a crucial opportunity to put Floridians back to work.

"Let's ask the governor-elect not to return the $2 billion in federal funds the state so desperately needs," Nelson said.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said the project would be "an economic shot in the arm for Tampa. Then we have to figure out how to connect to Pinellas County and the beaches," Castor said.

Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin last week indicated they wanted to return federal high-speed rail money that the Obama administration designated for their states.

U.S. Rep John Mica, R-Winter Park, said last week he was disappointed Hillsborough County voters had failed to pass a sales tax increase to pay for a light-rail connection to the Tampa high-speed rail station planned to go into operation in 2015 at the western end of the line that runs to Lakeland and Orlando.

State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who is on Scott's pre-inaugural advisory group and who also spoke at the Orlando forum, said in an interview that she has not heard Scott speak of rejecting the funds.

"I can't speak for the governor-elect, but he is a businessman and he is interested in creating jobs," Dockery said. "He said during the gubernatorial campaign he wanted to see the private sector 'put some skin into the game.' "Florida Department of Transportation officials have said the rail line will create 20,000 jobs between 2012 and 2015 and 1,000 permanent jobs when the 88-mile high-speed route goes into operation.


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