STATE COURT SIDES WITH SCOTT OVER RAIL…. In retrospect, electing a right-wing criminal to be Florida’s governor probably wasn’t such a good idea.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) has said he has the authority to refuse federal funding for high-speed rail in the state, turning down tens of thousands of jobs and significant economic development, on purpose, for no apparent reason. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers filed a lawsuit, asking Florida’s Supreme Court to force Scott to accept the funds, based on the notion that the infrastructure deal was struck before Scott took office.
The case didn’t go well. (thanks to G.B. for the tip)
Supporters of a proposed high-speed rail system in Florida had hoped to get the project back on track Friday — the deadline to accept $2.4 billion in federal funds — but the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Rick Scott can reject the money.
The court’s decision Friday followed a lawsuit filed against the governor by two state senators — one Democrat and Republican — who claimed Scott would overstep his executive authority and be in violation of Florida’s constitution if he did not accept the funds.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is likely to now redirect the resources — and the thousands of jobs — to other states.
Keep in mind, the multi-billion-dollar project, linking Orlando and Tampa, would have cost the state nothing. Even if there were cost overruns, officials had arranged for the private sector to make up the difference. All Scott had to do was get out of the way, and allow the project — with as many as 24,000 jobs expected — to continue. His constituents, whom he ostensibly cares about, would reap the benefits, with none of the costs.
But for reasons that no one can identify or understand, the governor has refused. Even Republicans from D.C. to Miami found the decision incomprehensible.
When Atrios joked that Floridians “elected Lex Luthor as their governor,” I think he was onto something.
There have been some related discussions about trying to circumvent Scott — why should Floridians suffer just because they elected a corrupt extremist to run the state? — but for now, it appears the options are severely limited, if not gone altogether.
Congratulations, New York, Washington, and California. You’re all now in the running for the jobs and economic development that Florida doesn’t want.
Postscript: And just a reminder, Florida law does not have a recall mechanism for governors. The state is stuck with him until 2014, unless he’s brought up on criminal charges between now and then.