U.S. Congressman John Mica, R-Winter Park, had a sit-down with Gov. Rick Scott today just before an MLK celebration at the governor's mansion. In an interview after the meeting, Mica said he and Scott talked about all of the state's infrastructure projects, from Miami to North Florida. He declined to name specifics, but did say high speed rail (of course) came up.
Mica, who chairs the powerful House transportation and infrastructure committee, is scheduled to meet tomorrow for the first time with the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission at a meeting in Jacksonville. Mica has never been a huge fan of high speed rail in Florida, or the proposed Tampa to Orlando line in particular. But with the feds covering 90 percent of construction costs for the Tampa/Orlando leg, Mica said it's time for the private sector to step up. That's in synch with what Scott, who is waiting on updated ridership studies before giving a full-throated yes or no on the project, has said on the topic.
"I personally don't believe anymore taxpayer money, federal or state, should go into it and he shares that view," Mica said. "We want to attract the best deal for the state of Florida if we're going to go forward with it. What we have to do is attract the investment from the private sector, and I think we're going to do that together."
Mica said he believes Scott understands the importance of transportation projects in reaching his goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years.
"We are on a very similar path. I have to do it for the country, he has to do it for the state. But he views transportation as one of the key elements to getting the state fiscally sound and getting people working," he said. "If we determine the projects are good for the taxpayer and improve the infrastructure of the state we're going to support them together."