Back to the Blog

FL Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Rick Scott - state won't get high-speed rail funds

Sean Kinane about over 4 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."

Here's a link to the Florida Supreme Court's decision.

Full text below.

Tell us what you think!

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."

comments powered by Disqus


Florida Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gov. Rick

I'm not at all surprised that this has happened. I felt that from the very moment that Rick Scott was elected Governor last fall, that Florida's high speed rail project was in jeopardy. I wonder how many of my fellow citizens, as well as local and state politicos were paying attention to this man while he was campaigning? It's no secret that he did not support the rail project from the very start and that his decision to reject federal funding would be soley based on dubious economic and political reasonings -- not in the best interests of both working and business class Floridians. I thought by now we would've learned our lessons from a previous experience we had when then-Governor Jeb Bush plotted to first defund and then defeat the 2000 voter-approved State Amendment that would've required our state to begin constructing a high speed rail network with his 2004 referendum, but unfortunately, I live within a state that seemingly refuses to learn from past mistakes.

Thanks Rick

"based on dubious economic and political reasonings"? More like if you can not afford it, don't buy it. This rail system potentially could cost tax payers and thier children for years to come. Please google Amtrak.

Good News!

It's good news. Finally we have a governor mature emough to make the hard but necessary decisions. Finally we have an honest man and not a politician in charge.

Ga$$ prices and mass transit

I just hope gas goes to $5 a gallon by August.

Me too!

I can afford it and it should make for some awesome call-in show whining!

Poor Decision

Extensive financial analysis indicated that High Speed Rail connection between Tampa and Orlando would have been an economic engine for job creation and revenue. However, we were kept from the opportunity by an individual who ran his hospital chain like a common crook. Scott has stolen from us again.

Scott is Right

Maurice, you're being extremely short sighted. It would not and did not take extensive analysis to show that jobs would be created. That's only logical. However, anyone who does the math can plainly see that when the grant money runs out, the jobs disappear. In addition, the state is left to pay to complete the construction (because the grant was not intended to be enough to pay for the entire job). On top of that, the state (and ultimately its citizens) would have to pay the operating costs for this inefficient and impractical train. This is how slaves are made. Governor Scott made a rational and sound decision and I applaud his courage in the face of ignorance.

Honest man? Please!

Do all honest me steal billions from taxpayer? By my account Rick Scott should pay the high speed rail overun cost himself. Also how is that private jet he is traveling around on costing us? Since it's a private plane I guess the Sunshine law also won't apply when he travels in it?


As gas prices rise, his decision will look increasingly short-sighted. How high would they have to get for those Floridians who fail to consider the future agree with that? $4 a gallon? $4.50? $5???

High Prices not Scott's Fault

$5 ain't nothing. They pay the equivalent of $9 a gallon in Europe. Are you saying the high gas prices are Scott's fault? That's crazy. It's because of the stuff going on in the middle east and opportunist oil companies.

An honest man?

We actually had an indiviual say that, "finally we have an honest man" an astonishing statement considering Scott was the CEO of a company that defrauded taxpayers of a substantial amount of money. clay, noone blamed Scott for the high gas prices. $5 ain't nothing? OK.

Learn from them...

They may pay the equivalent of $9 a gallon in Europe... but Europe also has the best commuter and high speed rail system in the world…

Uh.. so what?

but Europe also has the best commuter and high speed rail system in the world… what does that have to do with the issue? It costs MORE to ride the bus and then train to where you're going than it does to drive your car --even when gas is 2 euro a liter. So I don't get your point.

Clay's right... it is cheaper!!!

Dude… I thought we were talking about the economics of rail vs road. You brought the subject of rail vs road in Europe… which I thought was an excellent point!!! For instance…in Europe, I can get a “standard rail” ticket from Rome to Paris … which coincidently is the same distance from Orlando to Washington DC (about 900 miles)… for $272.50(US) and be in Paris in 10.5 hours!!! Right now, gas in Italy is at 1.54euros per liter… or… about $8.05 per gallon!!! The average car gets about 30 miles per gallon… or about 30 gallons for the whole trip… so… 30gal x $8.05 = $241.50 and you’ll be in Paris in 13.5 hours!!! By road… you’ve saved $30… by rail I’ve saved 3 hours and I’m not tired. But don’t worry… even if gas were at $9.00 a gallon… you would have saved $2.50… and still need to lay down somewhere!!! Meanwhile… back at the train station… Oh look!!!The Eifel Tower!!! LET”S GO PARTY!!! Everybody… shhhhhh… Clay’s asleep…. he’s wore out from saving $30…

Argue with yourself. I'm out.

No, you brought up the subject of rail --i don't know why. I only said that the cost of gas here, even at $5, wasn't very high when compared to Europe. And then you, in an effort to prove how smart you were, brought up something about rail. I think you should just argue with yourself and leave me out of it because you're not making any sense.

Schizonoid Paraphrenic...

Dude... I try to argue with myself on a regular basis… but the other guys won’t let me get a word in edge wise!!!