Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, a champion of the failed high speed rail project and detractor of SunRail, blasted Gov. Rick Scott for giving SunRail a thumbs-up. In a prepared statement, she said Scott had DOT Secretary Ananth Prasad "announce that he will betray the trust" of the conservative voters who elected him. She also said the move "completes his transformation from businessman to political insider" and shows he is "representing CSX instead of Florida taxpayers."
Here's the entire statement:
This morning, Governor Scott had his Secretary of Transportation announce that he will betray the trust of the conservative electorate who put him in office by moving forward with the least cost-efficient commuter rail project in the nation.
This decision has completed the governor's transformation from businessman to political insider. When the SunRail/CSX commuter project is viewed from a purely business vantage point, the project falls so far below what a savvy business owner would accept that it is somewhat baffling. It is unclear if when making the decision the governor had a change of heart, if he simply succumbed to the desires of the big money special interests, or if he has a severe case of amnesia and thought that he was supposed to be representing CSX instead of Florida's taxpayers.
Governor Scott's general counsel, a former CSX executive, admitted to giving blatantly false financial facts regarding High Speed Rail in front of the Florida Supreme Court. For that reason, it is overwhelmingly disappointing but not altogether surprising that the facts about SunRail, a sacred cow of special interests, would be ignored and the decision would be based upon arguments put forward by highly paid public relations consultants, using Floridians tax dollars.
The facts are as follows: nationwide, this is the lowest rated project for cost-effectiveness by the federal government, low ridership estimates, excessive liability is transferred from a for-profit corporation onto all Florida citizens, and it is a blank check waiting to be written by the taxpayers for any and all cost-overruns and operating subsidies.
While 'warnings' were given to the local governments during Tuesday's dog and pony show, this fact remains: the agreement between the federal government and the State of Florida clearly places the financial responsibility for all but $300 million of a $2.6 billion project squarely on the backs of Florida taxpayers."