MIAMI — Lawmakers in Florida filed suit in state Supreme Court against Governor Rick Scott seeking to force him to use funds approved by the White House for high-speed rail.
The complaint put forward by Republican Thad Altman and Democrat Arthenia Joyner argues that a 2009 law approved construction of a high-speed train in Florida, to link Orlando and Tampa, for which the federal government approved $2.4 billion. They say the governor should be required to implement it.
Joyner stressed: “This isn’t a monarchy, and he isn’t a king.”
Scott however stressed that he believed the train would require the state of Florida to pay extra billions of dollars that would have to be taken from taxpayers.
Scott on February 16 also cited the burden to the state of potential cost overruns and expected subsidies in rejecting funds for the 84-mile (135-kilometer) track link between Tampa and Orlando.
Scott was the third Republican governor to block a major high-speed rail project in the past three months by rejecting federal supporting funds, crucial to get plans off the ground.
Newly elected governors in Ohio and Wisconsin also canceled rail projects already approved by their Democratic predecessors, saying the states could not afford the projects.
Scott’s announcement came just two days after Obama released a proposed fiscal 2012 budget that highlighted the need to spend billions to develop high-speed railways in key corridors to sustain the country’s economic recovery and boost the competitiveness of the country’s infrastructure.
The Florida move was the first concrete response to the White House announcement early this month of its $53 billion, six-year program to foster high-speed rail in key urban corridors.