Two senators suing Gov. Rick Scott over his decision to kill a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando argue in court documents filed today that Scott's response to the suit shows he does not plan to abide by the Florida Rail Act approved by the state Legislature in late 2009. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Senators Thad Altman and Arthenia Joyner have asked the Supreme Court to order Scott to accept $2.4 billion in federal funding to build the line, saying Scott overstepped his executive authority when he rejected the money after a previous Legislature and governor had agreed to go forward with hit. Lawmakers also appropriated $131 million in federal stimulus money to get construction started.
Scott argued in court documents filed today that the appropriation merely authorizes spending of the $131 million, but does not require it. He also said it would be irreponsible for the Florida Rail Enterprise to spend the money if no additional funding will be available to complete the project.
According to documents filed by Altman and Joyner, in making that argument, Scott "has admitted that he claims that he can exercise the powers expressly allocated to the Legislature regarding the budget."
Altman and Joyner also argue that the Constitution requires Scott to execute laws passed by the Legislature, and "the Legislature expressly set forth in the Florida Rail Act the public policy of this state regarding high speed rail."
In Scott's legal response to the lawsuit, he has "admitted that he does not intend to comply" with the Florida Rail Act, which was approved by state lawmakers in a December 2009 special session called specifically to discuss rail.