Scott approves SunRail

Cl contacted Tampa tea party leader Sharon Calvert upon hearing the news. Because she had not yet seen an official statement from the governor's office, she said she would withhold comment.

Well, one prominent member of the Florida Tea Party has weighed in, and somewhat bizarrely gives the Governor a pass.

Tom Tilson serves on the steering committee of the West Orlando Tea Party. He writes:

For those who oppose the project, particularly the tea party folks, you must understand that it was the failure of the grassroots to mount a significant opposition to counter the power structure that pushed so hard for SunRail. We get the government we deserve.

For those who insist on placing fault, start with that power structure that has controlled things in this state for far too long, not the Governor. As disappointing as the news is, Rick Scott must live to fight another day. As important as the SunRail decision may be to some, there are more important issues — beginning with the 2012 Election.

And keep in mind, those that see Rick Scott as an outsider and oppose his efforts to bring about true fiscal reform cannot wait to see Scott’s base support turn on him. Time to put on our ‘big boy’ pants and see the overall picture…

The Florida Chamber of Commerce -who had supported the high speed rail plan between Tampa and Orlando that Scott killed in January, hailed the announcement in a press release.

“SunRail is a smart infrastructure investment,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This is another example of Governor Scott and the legislature putting Florida’s long-term goals ahead of the short-term interests of a few.”

Naturally Democrats who oppose Scott are blasting him as being hypocritical, in light of the rejection of federal funds on high speed rail. Scott Arceneaux, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director said:

“By approving the SunRail project today, Rick Scott made it clear that he killed high-speed rail and the 71,000 job-years the project would have created as a partisan ploy to attack the President.

“Considering experts agree that all the reasons Rick Scott cited and the questions he raised in stopping the critical investment in Florida’s infrastructure applied to the SunRail project much more than the high-speed rail project, his actions are clearly an attempt to bail out his toxic poll numbers.

“Given this fact, Rick Scott owes Floridians an apology for killing the high-speed rail project and for destroying jobs to impose his extreme agenda on our state.”

Dockery had been tweeting in recent days that she believed that Scott would approve the plan. She had been a major critic for years about the deal,which will have the state pay CSX over $400 million to use their tracks. One hint was that he had left more than $269 million for SunRail in the state budget that takes effect today.

Among the reason some critics called it a boondoggle was the fact that initial estimates only have about 2,100 people a day using the system.

Supporters say it will create 10,000 desperately needed jobs, almost immediately. Of course, the high speed rail line that the Governor nixed was also expected to create even more jobs.

The difference between the plans is that state taxpayers are already on the hook, whereas with the high speed rail line, there was that potential certainly, but the project was over 90 percent paid for already, with the expectations of the winning construction firm expected to pay the remainder amount.

We'll update the post with more comments as they come in. One thing is for sure: the folks in the Tampa Bay area - Republican and Democrat - who supported high speed rail have to be filled with fury, regardless of what they say for public consumption.

In a decision that would be criticized regardless of how he came down on it, Florida Governor Rick Scott has come out in support of the controversial SunRail commuter rail project.

The much anticipated announcement was made this morning by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad.

Sunrail is the $1.2 billion, 61-mile Central Florida project that been on hold since Scott took office in January while his office reviewed contracts. It's been championed by GOP Congressman John Mica and Speaker of the House Dean Cannon, also a Republican.

But It's been opposed by Lakeland area state Senator Paula Dockery, and more prominently, members of the tea party in Florida, who have been Scott's greatest supporters as the Florida Governor's popularity has sunk in public opinion polls in his six months in office.

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