Sen. Jack Latvala, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, blasted Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday for what he said was a premature decision to reject federal high speed rail funding.
"Making this decision, at this point, on a project that could mean 12,000 to 14,000 jobs is very premature,'' said Latvala, R-St. Petersburg. "I have been consistent in saying we ought to at least let the private companies go to bid and let it play out."
"It's in his court and I'm very disappointed he made this decision without consulting the Legislative branch,'' he said. "I visited with him yesterday and I had no inkling that they were heading in this direction. It shows kind of a lack of understanding and respect for the Legislative process. It's supposed to be a collaborative process -- where the governor and Legislature work together -- and this is not an example of working together."
The legislature authorized the state to pursue federal funding for a high speed rail project between Orlando and Tampa during a special legislative session last year. Since Scott took office in January, Latvala said the signals coming from his office have been "very mixed" but there had been no warning that he was prepared to announce its rejection.
"We've cut off our nose to spite our face,'' Latvala said. "To think that this money is going to go back into the federal treasury is ridiculous. The money will be going straight to California" and its proposed rail project.