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House adjourns with rail bill intact

The Florida House spent three hours on the floor debating the bill as more than a dozen members -- Republicans and Democrats -- questioned whether the claims of economic development, jobs and federal money for high-speed rail will come to fruition.

"When we talk about jobs, that's something Floridians are used to hearing -- jobs, jobs, jobs," said Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami. "What type of jobs are we looking at. Is it really jobs or is it just temporary."

Two amendments to guarantee that those hired to complete the project lived in Florida failed, as did three more to tighten the controls. The House will return Monday to vote on the final bill and then await action from the Senate.

Another issue lawmakers discussed at length involved the total cost to taxpayers. Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, the sponsor of the legislation, said the state will spent $175 million but could get its investment returned six-fold in federal dollars.

Lawmakers will feel heated resistance on this point when they return to Tallahassee on Monday. A conservative group of Tea Party members is planning to protest the project as a waste of taxpayer money.

House Republican Leader Adam Hasner, who opposed the stimulus but now wants to help Florida get the stimulus money, suggested it wouldn't have much of an affect.

"I understand why people are concerned about the projected cost of what these projects are going to be," a Boca Raton Republican. "But these are longterm investment decisions in our state's infrastructure."

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