Wednesday’s decision by Governor Rick Scott to cancel the Florida High-Speed Rail project is truly a case of misguided political calculations. After winning the election on a slogan of “Lets get to work,” Mr. Scott decided to reject $2.4 billion in federal funds that would have meant thousands of well-paying jobs in his state. In rejecting the funds, Mr. Scott claimed that he was afraid his state would be stuck paying for cost overruns or subsidizing the operation—both of which private operators from all over the world were willing to guarantee, leaving Florida with nothing but the benefits. Sadly, Mr. Scott’s politics won out over his State’s economic well-being.
Faced with tough economic times and high unemployment, Florida had the opportunity to become a national leader and the first state to have state-of-the-art high-speed rail—all paid for by the federal government and private sector! Instead, Mr. Scott is using faulty claims and overblown rhetoric to kill jobs and suppress economic development in his cities.
Metro Orlando is forecast by the Census Bureau to experience 64% growth by 2050. In the absence of new infrastructure capacity, that growth, and the prosperity it would bring will go elsewhere. In the global economy there will be winners and losers. The winners will be the places that invest in long-term capacity for growth in infrastructure, education and technology. Florida will be one of the losers if they continue on this course.