Florida Supreme Court
BREAKING: No High-Speed Rail For Florida -- Scott Tells DOT No, and the Court Upholds His Authority To Do So
Friday, March 04, 2011
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Florida Governor Rick Scott told US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this morning he would not move forward with high-speed rail. And his decision was backed up by the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld his authority to reject the $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for the project.
A DOT official said there are no more deadlines and that money will now leave Florida. “The U.S. Department of Transportation now plans to evaluate our options for making this $2.4 billion available to states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors, where the business case is strong, in regions across the United States.”
Earlier this morning the justices rejected a lawsuit brought by two state senators that challenged the governor's refusal to accept $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for the project. The court's decision is below.
Meanwhile, Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, released the following statement:
"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."
And Ray LaHood's statement reaffirmed that the president's high-speed rail program would move forward. “The Obama Administration’s bold high-speed rail plan will not only create jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing sector in the near term, it is a crucial and strategic investment in America’s future prosperity. I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens.”
BREAKING: Florida High Speed Rail Lawsuit -- State Senators Say Gov has "Exceeded... Constitutional Authority"
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Two state senators have filed a lawsuit to force Florida Governor Rick Scott to "expeditiously accept" $2.4 billion in federal money for the state's high-speed rail plan.
Republican Thad Altman and Democrat Arthenia Joyner claim in their petition to the Florida Supreme Court that the governor has overstepped his authority and is legally obligated to accept the high-speed rail money from the federal government, because the Florida State Legislature voted in December 2009 to authorize the project.
The massive document, which contains not only the legal argument but dozens of exhibits and letters, can be found here (pdf) or below.
Governor Scott said two weeks ago he was rejecting funds for high-speed rail because he was convinced there would be cost overruns. Since then, US Department of Transportation Secretary RayLaHood granted the governor two one-week extensions in an effort to change his mind. But the governor said as recently as this morning that he remained unconvinced.
Governor Scott's office has not yet returned calls seeking his comment on the lawsuit, while the Department of Transportation has no comment. More as we learn it!