Unlike the reporter who apologized for her line of questioning, the governor failed to apologize for not knowing what he was talking about.
That's despite Scott approving $213 million in state funds in February for a train terminal at Orlando International Airport for the All Aboard Florida project. launched by a company whose family tree extends to the Fortress Investment Group, which bought Florida East Coast Industries for $3.5 billion in 2007.
Scott, of course, just after taking office in 2011, rejected $2.3 billion in federal funds to build the first phase of the nation's first high-speed project, between Orlando and Tampa, with plans for the far more inviting Orlando-Miami second phase to follow.
Although the Florida Department of Transportation commissioned two investment grade reports (these are what people buying bonds rely upon) that ended up projecting even the Tampa-Orlando segment would cover its operational costs after a period of time, Scott relied on input from the libertarian Reason Foundation, which challenged the findings of the investment reports private firms produced.
The big issue, however, is not whether a Miami-Orlando train would reach 180 mph for a little more than a two-hour trip between Miami and Orlando as President Obama envisioned, or 110 mph and about a three-hour trip as news media has reported for AAF (the company said Federal Railroad Administration ultimately will decide the top speed).
What matters is politics and Scott's re-election chances, whether voters care what Scott did by rejecting the high-speed rail project, shocking powerful Republican business people - primarily in the Orlando-Miami corridor who hoped the state would benefit from business development and the enhanced image and competitive advantage Florida would have had with the nation's preeminent intercity rail system.
Tampa for the time being is left with an empty plot of land in the heart of downtown adjacent to the Interstate, where the city could have had stations for high-speed rail, light rail local voters rejected in 2010, and a Major League Baseball park if planners had been thinking, but now has a vacant lot whose main purpose might be a backdrop for a gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist sound bite on Scott's transportation policy.
Yesterday Rick Scott took the opportunity to jump on the dishonest Republican pile on against President Obama, blaming FAA sequestration cuts on him rather than the party who pushed sequestration and wanted it in the first place: His own.
The cuts have been hurting everyday Americans since they began, but it wasn't until they started actually impacting things Republicans care about that they started complaining. Never mind that elderly cancer patients were being denied lifesaving chemotherapy, the GOP was most concerned that their constituents couldn't get a White House tour. Yesterday they started whining about air traffic delays caused by furloughs of air traffic controllers forced by the sequester.
First, Scott tries to kill two talking points with one stone here, as per usual. These cuts will devastate Florida families only because they are part of this year's campaign theme for Rick Scott's reelection. Had the sequestration cuts come several months ago, the biggest impact would have been on the "Job creators." Why Scott left teachers out of the list of those impacted I'm not sure, but then finding a way to tie flight delays to teacher's salaries would have been a stretch even for one-talking-point-fits-all Rick Scott, so I suppose that makes sense.
Second, Scott presumes to lecture the President and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on facts and figures and the impact those cuts will have. Had he been paying attention, he would have no doubt heard the same when the President was making speeches for months asking Republicans to put an end to the sequester, which they refused to do. But then paying attention isn't Scott's strong suit. Neither is fact-based reality.
Third, and this is the big one, does Rick Scott really think he's in a position to lecture others on the importance of transportation in Florida and the heavy price we pay for gridlock and be met with a straight face, nor a return letter saying "This is a joke, right?" from President Obama and Ray LaHood? Of course he shouldn't. He's the man who took billions of dollars for high-speed rail and threw it back in both men's faces, tossing jobs along with them, leaving Floridians to scratch their heads as they spent the better parts of their days sitting in traffic that would have been a thing of the past had Scott not done so. No, we couldn't have high-speed rail any more than we could have affordable health care because they would be an impediment to "freedom" and were offered up by a Democrat in the White House.
Well, sorry Rick, but that "freedom" and stupidity are now biting you in the backside just like all the Republicans who did the same, especially those who pushed for the sequester in the first place. If you want to point fingers, start with those guys, not President Obama. The sequester could end easily if they wanted it to. You can start by aiming that digit squarely at Florida Republicans who voted for sequestration. You can also aim it back at yourself. You decried "big government" as you ran for office, and now that cuts from said big government who you want to "keep their hands out of your business" are a reality, you're whining like a spoiled child who didn't get his way.
Asked what his message would be to congressional Republicans and Democrats, who approved sequestration as an expected intolerable solution to force agreement on a budget, Scott said Washington should follow Florida's lead in balancing the budget and creating efficiencies.
Balancing a budget and creating efficiencies? You mean like billions added to the budget for say, jobs and efficient high-speed rail projects?
No, of course you don't have an answer. You have talking points that make no sense.
It kind of leaves you and your Republican colleagues speechless when your policies collide with the real world, doesn't it Rick?
The bill would benefit Floridians and create actual jobs, unlike the "phantom" jobs Rick Scott promises, which never materialize. So it's no wonder he would refuse to take funding from the proposed American Jobs Act simply for purely political reasons.
"ObamaJobs" I presume?
THE AMERICAN JOBS ACT: IMPACT FOR FLORIDA
The American people understand that the economic crisis and the deep recession weren’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight. The economic security of the middle class has been under attack for decades. That’s why President Obama believes we need to do more than just recover from this economic crisis – we need to rebuild the economy the American way, based on balance, fairness, and the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street. We can work together to create the jobs of the future by helping small business entrepreneurs, by investing in education, and by making things the world buys. The President understands that to restore an American economy that’s built to last we cannot afford to outsource American jobs and encourage reckless financial deals that put middle class security at risk.
To create jobs, the President unveiled the American Jobs Act – nearly all of which is made up of ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and that Congress should pass right away to get the economy moving now. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. And it would do so without adding a dime to the deficit. The American Jobs Act has five components:
1. Tax Cuts to Help America’s Small Businesses Hire and Grow
The President’s plan will cut the payroll tax in half to 3.1% for employers on the first $5 million in wages, providing broad tax relief to all businesses but targeting it to the 98 percent of firms with wages below this level. In Florida, 410,000 firms will receive a payroll tax cut under the American Jobs Act.
2. Putting Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and Modernizing America
The President’s plan includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. Of the investments for highway and transit modernization projects, the President’s plan will make immediate investments of at least $1,578,600,000in Florida that could support a minimum of approximately 20,500 localjobs.
The President is proposing to invest $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. These funds would help states and localities avoid and reverse layoffs now, and will provide $1,669,500,000 in funds to Florida to support up to 25,900 educator and first responder jobs.
The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools – investments that will create jobs, while improving classrooms and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs. Florida will receive $1,280,300,000 in funding to support as many as 16,600 jobs.
The President is proposing to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Florida could receive about $2,701,800,000 to revitalize and refurbish local communities, in addition to funds that would be available through a competitive application.
The President’s plan proposes $5 billion of investments for facilities modernization needs at community colleges. Investment in modernizing community colleges fills a key resource gap, and ensures these local, bedrock education institutions have the facilities and equipment to address current workforce demands in today’s highly technical and growing fields. Florida could receive $288,400,000 in funding in the next fiscal year for its community colleges.
3. Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs.
Drawing on the best ideas of both parties and the most innovative states, the President is proposing the most sweeping reforms to the unemployment insurance (UI) system in 40 years help those without jobs transition to the workplace. This could help put the 498,000 long-term unemployed workers in Florida back to work.
Alongside these reforms, the President is reiterating his call to extend unemployment insurance, preventing 148,500 people looking for work in Florida from losing their benefits in just the first 6 weeks. And, across the country, the number saved from losing benefits would triple by the end of the year.
The President is proposing a new Pathways Back to Work Fund to provide hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults with opportunities to work and to achieve needed training in growth industries. Pathways Back to Work could place 8,800 adults and 35,600 youths in jobs in Florida.
4. Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family
The President’s plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last December by cutting workers payroll taxes in half next year. A typical household in Florida, with a median income of around $46,000, will receive a tax cut of around $1,430.
5. Fully Paid for as Part of the President’s Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan.
To ensure that the American Jobs Act is fully paid for, the President will call on the Joint Committee to come up with additional deficit reduction necessary to pay for the Act and still meet its deficit target. The President will, in the coming days, release a detailed plan that will show how we can do that while achieving the additional deficit reduction necessary to meet the President’s broader goal of stabilizing our debt as a share of the economy.
If you're wondering where that $2.4 billion's worth of high-speed rail money that Rick Scott blew off and all the jobs that went with it, wonder no more.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that a portion of the high speed rail money that Gov. Rick Scott sent back to the Obama administration will go toward construction in the Northeast Corridor to upgrade some of the most heavily-used tracks.
“These grants are a win for our economy and a win for commuters all along the Northeast Corridor,” said Secretary Ray LaHood in a news release. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”
LaHood said that the Northeast Corridor would receive $449.94 million to upgrade electrical systems and tracks between Trenton, NJ and New York City. Another $295.78 million will be spent on alleviating delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan, but creating new routes that will allow Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the country.
Meanwhile, back here in Florida Rick Scott continues to peddle his own facts to justify what a bad idea high-speed rail would have been. He probably knows what a big mistake it was to reject the project, but also probably doesn't care. By labeling it "ObamaRail" he telegraphs to commuters sitting in traffic for hours on end that he values his party over what's best for Floridians, and they can just eat those exhaust fumes as he flies over them on his own private jet.
Speaking of privatized travel, you might be surprised to know that the state has been conducting talks in secret over privatizing Tri-Rail, the south Florida commuter line. Tri-Rail board members certainly were surprised. They were never even informed of the idea which Rick Scott is of course open to.
The state has been in secret talks to transfer the operations of the South Florida commuter rail line, Tri-Rail, to the Florida East Coast Railway, The Palm Beach Post has learned.
The FEC, owned by the $44 billion capital management firm Fortress Investment Group, wants to provide passenger service on its line, which cuts through downtowns along the southeast coast. Tri-Rail operates on the CSX Railway farther to the west.
Negotiations have been so quiet that even Tri-Rail board members have not been informed.
"This has been so cloak and dagger the way this is all working out," said Tri-Rail board Chairwoman Kristin Jacobs, a Broward County commissioner. "We’ve never had dealings with another public agency where we were not at the table."
The talks have been led by the Florida Department of Transportation, which contributes about $30 million a year to Tri-Rail’s $61 million annual capital and operating subsidies. About $13 million comes from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties and the rest from the federal government.
Those close to the negotiations say legislation is likely to be proposed for the session beginning in January that would allow private firms to bid on running Tri-Rail, with the winning company agreeing to operate and manage the line at a price below the current taxpayer contribution.
"The governor is always willing to privatize portions of state government that doesn’t compromise public safety or necessary services," said Steve MacNamara, Scott’s chief of staff. "But I have not yet seen a good privatization plan for Tri-Rail."
The Republican governor used Tri-Rail as a weapon last spring against the state’s high-speed rail proposal. Scott refused $2.4 billion in federal money for the Tampa-to-Orlando leg of high-speed rail, saying he didn’t want to become embroiled in another money-losing venture.
The Scott administration has little control over the decisions of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the nine-member board that oversees Tri-Rail. The governor has just three appointees to the board, dominated by officials from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The chairwoman, Jacobs, is a Broward County Democrat.
Among the governor’s advisers on transportation is Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation, who advocates road-building over passenger rail. He served on the governor’s transition team and will be among the speakers, along with Jacobs and an FEC vice president, at a transportation forum this afternoon at Lynn University.
The rail line is poised to profit from the expansion of the Port of Miami, recently keyed by the Scott administration’s infusion of $77 million toward a dredging project to enable the port to accept the largest cargo ships from the soon-to-be-expanded Panama Canal.
The FEC also is moving forward with government-subsidized, $50 million projects to provide direct links between docks and rail lines at the Port of Miami and Port Everglades in Broward County.
If the Reason Foundation rings a bell, it should. They're the manufacturers of those "facts" Gov. Scott used to reject the high-speed rail project in the first place.
That comes from a statement made today by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in announcing that the U.S. Department Of Transportation has awarded 15 other states and the District of Columbia $2 billion which had been designated for Florida's high-speed rail project that Gov. Rick Scott turned down by killing the project which was decades in the making.
There's only one person in Florida that didn't want high-speed rail, and there were thousands of people that did want it. There's a lot of disappointment in Florida, but we're well beyond that now."
Scott turned down the money along with the thousands of jobs it would have created, in spite of his campaign promises to create jobs, which have yet to come to fruition. Scott has used numerous excuses to justify turning down the money. Among them, he proclaimed the project was a "boondoggle" that would cost the state money, when in fact studies showed it would have made a profit even sooner than expected.
State Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, says news today that 15 states are splitting the $2 billion that had been designated for Florida's high speed rail project was yet another blow to Gov. Rick Scott's argument to decline the money.
"The governor is either intentionally lying or it's malfeasance," said Altman, who unsuccessfully sued to stop Scott from blocking the federal cash.
Altman pointed to a press release Scott sent in April taking credit for helping prevent the federal government shutdown. Scott said his rejection of the money allowed Congress to cut high-speed rail funding, which was part of the budget deal to avoid a shutdown.
Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, said it was "indisputable" that Scott's decision to turn down the money helped. "It made it a lot easier," Burgess said.
But Altman says the news today is proof Scott's statement was wrong. "This is the final piece of misinformation," he said.
"This is almost propaganda," Altman said. "It's all proven to be false and as a result we've lost money for would have been the most modern transportation system in America, if not the world."
"He intentionally ignored the facts to make a political point," Altman continued. "It was a political move to prevent the president from having a project awarded to Florida.
"In his disdain for the president and his zeal to make him look bad, he was even willing to hurt the people of Florida."
Indeed, LaHood is right. There are thousands of people who wanted high-speed rail, both in the state of Florida, and in the other states lucky enough to have officials who have the good sense to recognize a good thing for their state when they see it: a good investment and a job creator. Two things Rick Scott clearly doesn't understand or care about. If you need convincing, just take a look at his budget and at what his Republican controlled legislature did in the past couple of months. They merely continued with the farce that throwing tax cuts at bg business will solve all problems when it will merely put Florida further into the red and drive people away to, say states that have rail service. And jobs.
Remember when Florida Governor Rick Scott took decades of planning and hard work and trashed it all by turning away billions in federal funds along with thousands of jobs for Floridians by saying no to high-speed rail? You do?
Well, funny story....his lawyer added insult to injury by giving the wrong information in oral arguments to the court, which ruled in Scott's favor and tossed away Florida's chance for joining the rest of the modern transportation world.
"In fact, approximately $31 million has been spent on the high speed rail project," Trippe wrote in a two-page letter to the court. "I sincerely regret the error."
But hey, he was only off by $79 million. Who's counting, am I right?
State Sen. Thad Altman said that dollar figure was critical to the case:
"We were approaching the end of the fiscal year. And if he spent $110 million out of the $131 million, how do you allege he's not implementing the law? He spent a vast majority of the money," Altman said. "But if it's only $30 million, and there are only four months left in the fiscal year, it's a stronger case."
Altman said he isn't sure if he will reopen the case. Doing so would not likely make a difference in terms of getting the money back to Florida to pay for the project. But it could make a point.
"There was a big misrepresentation of the facts. Would this be a legitimate reason to reopen this case and reassert that the governor misused his authority? Certainly, clearly it shows either his office didn't know what was going on or they misrepresented the facts," Altman said. "What is the bigger and more important question is the misuse of executive authority and not faithfully implementing the law. That applies not only to rail, but many other things."
So there you have it. More incompetence from the governor who wants to run the state like a business.
That is, a business which has money management problems and lawyers who can't add or subtract, and run by a guy who ran two medical companies, one which broke records for Medicare fraud, and another where they ask you if you'd like fries with that A La Carte prostate screening.
Put that on a postcard and just watch those tourists and new residents beat a path to the state line!
Rick Scott got a trainload of well deserved bad PR when he threw away billions in federal funds and thousands of jobs by rejecting high-speed rail for Florida and branded it "ObamaRail" for sport. He tried to convince people it would cost taxpayers in the long run, and therefore, in the interest of "our own protection" he "saved the day" for Floridians.
Not to be one-upped by those facts, he took another stab at fantasy math (not to mention taking another jab at President Obama) by sending out this laughable press release a couple days ago after Congress came out with their final continuing resolution that included a $1.5 billion reduction in funds for high speed rail:
“I am proud to have brought this waste to the attention of those in Washington,” Governor Rick Scott stated in response to the news. “These funds should either be returned to taxpayers as tax cuts or applied to reducing the burden that our national debt is passing to future generations.”
Accent on the "fantasy," not so much on the "math," from the man who is rumored to have set his sights on running for President some day.
This claim is of course, absolutely ridiculous on its face. Back when he rejected the money, Scott seemed to be under the impression that the money for the high-speed rail project would still be his to play with however he wanted, like dredging the ports in Miami and Jacksonville and widening Interstate highways in Florida. (As if that had never been done before.)
Gov. Clueless really seemed to have no idea that the money would be given to other states that had governors who could do actual math and know a job creator when they saw one, and can identify the meaning of the word "stimulus" without the aid of a dictionary. Those governors are lined up as I write hoping their state is picked as the next one to get onboard the train to progress.
Gov. "Run The State Like A Bidness" also missed another fact in his little press release. The $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds that he rejected had nothing to do with the money cut from the budget. That money was for additional budgeted appropriations. But again, Scott's reputation in running business isn't exactly stellar. Famous, yes, but not in a good way.
Today in Tallahassee, Scott was to address realtors when he met a bit of signage he may not have bargained for:
Gov. Scott has also put the state's SunRail project on hold, pending his review of those contracts as well. Apparently businesses aren't going to sit back and just trust Scott on this one, in spite of his business friendly claims.
"SunRail has always been an important issue for the region," said Steve Costa, a real estate agent from Volusia County. "We've been [trying] to get it through for a long time. We finally found a solution that the House and Senate and the last governor approved. It would mean a lot of jobs for our economy and connecting peeople and places more efficiently. Nothing but good things."
Costa said he and other realtors in the region are concerned that Scott is taking so long to review the contracts, which is driving up costs.
"We're so close. We were 18 days from breaking ground when he delayed it," Costa said.
In an interview after his remarks to realtors, Scott said he wants to make sure the local communities really understand the financial commitment required to run the trains.
Yes, well the last time he said something like that, he let the train keep on a-chuggin' to another station, and by the time local communities "understood the financial commitment required to run the trains" it proved to be a financial win. Unfortunately by the time we found out about the surplus, Rick Scott had already bought Floridians a ticket on the train to nowhere.
It doesn't sound to me like Rick Scott is on board with SunRail either.
Perhaps Rick Scott should try to understand the "financial commitments required" before rejecting another project instead of manufacturing his own facts or relying on those from right-wing think tanks this time around.