FL Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Rick Scott - state won't get high-speed rail funds
Seán Kinane about almost 2 years ago
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Governor Rick Scott and his ability to decline federal high-speed rail funds.
Here's the response from the Governor's office:
"The Governor is gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision, he is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida’s economy around. He also spoke with US DOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida will focus on other infrastructure projects and will not move forward with any federal high speed rail plan."
Full text below.
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We'll bring you audio of Senator Bill Nelson's response on the 4pm WMNF drive-time news today.
Here's U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's response:
“Today, Gov. Scott turned his back on Floridians and sent our $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money, and the tens of thousands of jobs associated with it, to other states. We need those jobs here in Florida. We are a state in need of a large investment for economic opportunity, but, disappointingly, Gov. Scott has rejected a real, vital opportunity for our region and our entire state to recover.
“As I have said before, the governor’s decision shows a devastating lack of vision, a lack of understanding of Florida’s economic situation, and an unfortunate devotion to his own rigid ideology.
“Florida business leaders showed their full support for the jobs that would come with high-speed rail. Last week, on the streets of downtown Tampa, business leaders and other Floridians showed their passion at a rally for high-speed rail and related jobs.
“The plan we presented the governor met every test he mentioned. The plan protected taxpayers while giving Floridians a once-in-a-generation opportunity to be at the forefront of a modern transportation system and benefit from the jobs that would come with that initiative. I am disheartened that Gov. Scott is giving another state the money and jobs we worked so hard to bring to our community. The real losers today are the very Florida taxpayers Gov. Scott claims to protect."
Here is an update from Senator Bill Nelson as of 1:47 pm:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says a proverbial “Hail Mary” pass was thrown today – even as the federal government prepared to give Florida’s $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money and associated 24,000 jobs to someone else.
Taking one last shot at saving the project, Nelson said federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has offered to review whether the grant process could be reopened and whether the money could then be awarded directly to the local governments that just formed a new regional rail coalition in Florida, including the cities of Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland and Miami.
LaHood, according to Nelson, pledged in the wake of today’s Florida Supreme Court setback to have his attorneys review whether the new regional rail authority in Central Florida could be allowed to compete against the likes of California and New York and other states clamoring for the money rejected by Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. LaHood and Nelson agreed to talk again Monday or Tuesday.
“If it can’t be done, then we’re done,” Nelson said. “Meantime, there’s an old proverb: fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Earlier Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled that Scott didn’t overstep his authority in rejecting the rail money, although the justices did not address the merits of the project itself.
Given Friday’s court decision, a number of states now will be getting in line. “We will take that money,” declared U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders ( I-VT ) at a Senate Budget Committee hearing yesterday. “If other states do not want it, that is fine.”
Sen. Christopher Coons ( D-DE ) joined Sanders and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse ( D-RI ) and Mark Warner ( D-VA ) in asking LaHood at the meeting for Florida’s money. “Should the governor of Florida be so foolish as to turn back funds … it is our hope that the Northeast corridor will be highly competitive in that,” Coons said.
Text of Supreme Court ruling:
"Supreme Court of Florida FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011 CASE NO.: SC11-396 THAD ALTMAN, ET AL. vs. HON. RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR Petitioner(s) Respondent(s) On March 2, 2011, petitioners filed with the Court an "Emergency Verified Petition for Writ of Quo Warranto, or in the Alternative, for Writ of Mandamus, or other Equitable Relief." The petition was filed as an original proceeding pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(8) of the Florida Constitution. The emergency nature of the petition is based on an alleged March 4, 2011, federal deadline by which to "accept" $2.4 billion in federal grant funds for construction of a high speed rail project. The petitioners allege that Governor Scott has exceeded his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers under the Florida Constitution. The Court has reviewed the petition, response, and reply, has heard oral argument, and has considered the factual allegations and legal arguments. Based on the limited record before the Court and a review of the federal and state law relied on by the parties, the Court has determined that the petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to quo warranto, mandamus, or any other relief. Accordingly, the emergency petition is hereby denied. NO MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL BE PERMITTED. CANADY, C.J., PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, POLSTON, LABARGA, and PERRY, JJ., concur. Case No. SC11-396 Page 2 A True Copy Test: vm Served: CLIFTON ADAMSON MCCLELLAND, JR. J. ANDREW ATKINSON JESSE MICHAEL PANUCCIO ERIK MATTHEW FIGLIO CARLY ANN HERMANSON CHARLES M. TRIPPE, JR."