By Matthew Falconer
The talk in Tallahassee these days is about removing taxpayer objections to Obama’s high speed rail by claims of “privatizing” the project.
The talk started the very same week Associated Industries of Florida (or if you like my nickname “The Associated Industries who will Build and Profit from the Train”) formed a political action committee to sell the project. Calling this taxpayer boondoggle private is the political equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.
There is nothing private about the $2.5 billion the federal government is investing in the project. Our “leaders” willfully ignore the fact those are our federal tax dollars our children and grandchildren have to pay back.
Nationally, the high speed rail project will cost U.S. taxpayers $1 trillion, financed entirely with debt, bringing our nation closer to an economic judgment day.
Tallahassee special interests and bureaucrats have joined forces again to convince Florida taxpayers none of their money will go into high speed rail. I have read the plans to finance the non-federal portion of the high speed rail project ($300 million plus cost overruns plus operating losses (i.e. billions)). Just like every other corporate welfare project ever invented, the average taxpayer will be left with the bill.
The first plan was for the foreign rail contractors to loan the money to the taxpayers. The next plan is pretty slick. They call it a “revenue sharing agreement” where you the taxpayer get to cover the operating losses if ridership is lower than projected. Bureaucrats predict inter-city mass transit travel from Orlando to Tampa will increase 1200% and if they are wrong the taxpayers of Florida will be on the hook for decades.
We have seen this train wreck before. We did not see a “jobs bonanza” like they promised when we gave $300 million taxpayer dollars to Burnham to bring 150 jobs to Orlando. Unemployment did not go down when we spent $500 million on a new arena. The truth is high speed rail will cost Florida taxpayers billions of dollars and put pressure on core functions of government like education and public safety.
We, the people of the Great State of Florida, voted against high speed rail in 2004. It is time our elected officials serve the will of the people and respect the collective wisdom of the taxpayers.