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Mayors talk future of high speed rail | Politics

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Mayors talk future of high speed rail
Mayors talk future of high speed rail

Lakeland, Florida -- The mayors of Tampa, Orlando and Lakeland say they have addressed all of Governor Rick Scott's concerns about putting in a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.

The trio says now it is time for Scott to get on board the train.

"In summary, there's absolutely no risk to the citizens of Florida and all of the money, both (for) the construction and operation coming either from the Federal government or the private sector," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

Dyer was joined Thursday afternoon by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields at the news conference outside of the Lakeland City Hall. 

All three spoke in support of taking the $2.4 billion in federal money being offered by the Federal government to build the high speed rail line. 

"In this United States of America we do take risks, we do build infrastructure and we do move forward and when we stop doing that we will stop being the great nation that we are and that I can not tolerate," Iorio told those in attendance.

Read: Mayors' letter to Gov. Rick Scott on high speed rail (PDF)
See Also: Does governor have the power to kill high speed rail?

Scott wants to scrap the project, because he says it will leave Florida taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns and operating subsidies.

But again, the mayors say those concerns have been resolved and will no longer be an issue for Florida and its taxpayers.

The mayors met with the Governor earlier this week in hopes of changing his mind. Thursday was another attempt to not only address his concerns, but to also apply some addition public pressure.

"What does frustrate me about this and concerns me is that if this the leadership tone that is set in our state we will not progress and if we don't progress, we move backwards," Iorio said.

In addition, Iorio says if the federal money is not spent here, it will be spent somewhere else.

"That's part of the tragedy of this. That if we don't use it someone else is using it, it's not going for budget reduction, it's not going towards deficit reduction it's going so that another state can build high speed rail with Floridian tax dollars."

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court held oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging Scott's refusal to accept $2.4 billion in federal money for the proposed Tampa-Orlando high speed rail line.

The expedited hearing comes just a day before the deadline for accepting the stimulus money. It'll be sent to high speed projects in other states if Florida doesn't take it.

Two state senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, sued. They say state law gives the Republican governor no choice but to take the money.

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