Perhaps Rick Scott's biggest action during his first 100 days in office was the killing of Florida's federally funded high-speed rail project. It would have revolutionized our transit system and had an effect on the economy like no other project in recent Florida history. So, you would have hoped he had all his facts in order when he made the decision. Well, whoops, Scott's lawyer now admits he made a big mistake when arguing for the Governor in an ensuing suit that came up before the state Supreme Court.
Two state Senators filed the suit against Scott after his decision to kill the project, and lawyer Charles Trippe represented the Governor.
Trippe argued that Florida had already spent $110 million of the $131 million already allocated to the state for the project, when, whaddaya know, actually the state had only spent $31 million. According to Naked Politics, Trippe blamed the mistake on a communication error with the state Department of Transportation.
The case alleged that Scott was overstepping his authority by killing the project that had already been agreed upon by Charlie Crist and the previous legislature. Scott, the suit argued, was legally obligated to continue spending the money already set aside by state lawmakers.
Trippe argued that the supposed fact that all but $21 million had been spent meant that the Scott administration was following that law, and that there wasn't much more to spend. In fact there was about $100 million still left in the coffers.
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"We were approaching the end of the fiscal year. And if he spent $110 million out of the $131 million, how do you allege he's not implementing the law? He spent a vast majority of the money," state Senator Thad Altman, a Republican who filed the suit, told NP. "But if it's only $30 million, and there are only four months left in the fiscal year, it's a stronger case."
Though the mistake could be enough to reopen the case, it's very unlikely that any judgement would allow Florida to reclaim the $2.4 billion in federal money it had been promised to build the high-speed rail.
Coupled with the fact that much of Scott's decision to kill the project was based on studies by biased, conservative and libertarian think tanks, we have to wonder just how much Scott and his associates paid attention to the facts when making this monumental decision.