Now, we all know that ethanol is perhaps the greatest tax-payer-funded boondoggle of all-time but when all is said and done the high-speed rail projects both here in California and the nationwide system proposed by the President and championed by Vice President Joe "Choo-choo" Biden may be spoken of in similar reverential tones.
However, attempting to avoid that fate are some folks like the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who is rejecting federal money for a rail project linking Orlando and Tampa, stating quite simply that Florida can't afford the federal government's largesse.
Moments ago I spoke with u.s. transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to inform him of my decision. I appreciate the secretary’s efforts to work with us and I look forward to working with him in the future. #(italics, ours)
My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities: #
First – capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.
•Second – ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years) – Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.
•Finally – if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.
Passenger revenue only covers 1/6th of the Tri-Rail budget? Yikes.
Historic cost overruns associated with high-speed rail projects, over-inflated rider projections and the potential of being left holding the bag if the project turned sour made this one a no-brainer for the governor.
This nod to fiscal sanity must be catching as the governors of both Ohio and Wisconsin have cancelled high-speed rail projects in those states.
Our blog-buddy, Harrison at Capitol Commentary has some thoughts on the matter as well, here.