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Sunrail moves along, but just barely

As expected, a Senate appropriations committee on Monday approved the Sunrail commuter rail venture on a nip and tuck 4 to 3 vote, sending it to Senate Ways and Means and, beyond that, a big fight on the Senate floor. 

But the Senate sought to link passage of the Sunrail commuter train to one of the major differences with the House on next year's budget: a raid on the transportation fund. The House's budget proposal diverts about $420-million in cash from the DOT fund to avoid larger spending cuts in programs such as schools and health care.

In the Senate, a state transportation official said the House's trust fund raid would force Sunrail to be delayed. "The project would need to be deferred -- as well as many other projects," DOT's Kevin Thibault told senators, in response to questions by the panel's chairman, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano is one of the strongest protectors in the Legislature of the transportation trust fund. 

Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, voted for the bill after it was added to include money for Tri-Rail in his district, said: "This is still a very ugly bill ... It's not a bill that has to be killed dead today."

-- Steve Bousquet

Comments

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Crackers Forever

Gee, I guess the House budget cutters didn't get the memo from Mica, Dyer, Constantine, Stuart, Cannon and the rest that FDOT money couldn't be touched or used for anything but their stupid rail project. Go House! Take all of FDOT's CSX corporate welfare money and spend it on schools, health care, public safety, anything but those greedy scum bags from CSX.

Speedway to Sunshine

Tri-Rail hauls 15,000 riders every day but Senate Transportation Appropriations Chairman Mike Fasano forced Ft. Lauderdale's Senator Smith to prostitute himself just to try to get a local sustained Tri-Rail funding source in return for his vote to approve liability for CSX and Orlando's SunRail that will only haul 3,500 daily riders. Why? Is it because FDOT overpaid CSX in 1988 and the leaders of the corporate welfare legislature see another great opportunity to do it again in 2009. Does all that justify senator Fasano and senator dlp trampling Senate rules and decorum to prevent amendments that would have protected Florida's taxpayers? It does if your brother works for the big law firm that CSX is paying to make the Deal happen! Shame, shame, shame, how about truth for a change!

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