Florida Governor Rejected HSR Funds to Make Obama Look Bad
This story should come as no surprise, but it’s still galling to see it. A former Florida State Senator has said that Florida Governor Rick Scott promised to accept federal HSR funds shortly before publicly announcing in 2011 he would reject those funds – and that he may have done so in order to make President Barack Obama look bad:
Former state Sen. Paula Dockery, a former political ally of Gov. Rick Scott but now a critic, says Scott assured her shortly after taking office in early 2011 that he planned to accept $2.4 billion in federal economic stimulus money for a Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail system.
That was days before he announced he was rejecting the money, creating a national political stir….
When she got out the documents to start going through them, “He said, ‘You don’t have to go any further, I’ve decided I’m going to take the high-speed rail money,’” she said in her speech Sept. 20 to the Tiger Bay Club. “’Don’t say anything to the media about it but I’m going to take the money.’”
“I said. ‘Governor, that’s fabulous.’”
Dockery said she warned Scott he would get intense pressure from fellow Republicans to reject it “because it looks like Obama wins” if the project succeeds.
“There were other Republican governors who were turning down rail money,” she said in the interview. “That was kind of the national plan of the Republican governors.”
“He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ … His mind already was made up,” she added. “There was no misinterpretation.”
As we know, Scott did side with Republican governors Scott Walker and John Kasich in rejecting federal HSR stimulus funds. California benefited, but Florida and the nation as a whole lost out. This was at the same time that Republicans in the US House of Representatives also began their own war on high speed rail, refusing to support new funding and throwing national plans into disarray.
Republican politicians oppose HSR for several reasons. Some of it has to do with their desire to make Obama look bad. Some of it is an ideological opposition to passenger rail, or to government funding of passenger rail. But whatever the reason, the effects are devastating to the national economy and America’s ability to become energy independent and reduce carbon emissions.
HSR backers may have the last laugh, however. Rick Scott has become one of the most unpopular governors in the country, and trails former governor Charlie Crist by 12 points in a likely 2014 matchup. Crist is a moderate politician who also supported the Florida HSR project and has criticized Scott for rejecting the federal stimulus funds.
It would be a huge boost for HSR funding, which California needs more of, to see Republicans lose their bids for re-election because they opposed high speed rail.