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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mayors: Florida off hook for high-speed rail payback

3

March

The mayors of Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando said Thursday that they have received assurances from the U.S. Department of Transportation that Florida would not have to pay back $2.4 billion if the high-speed rail project failed.

“If there is one point that I would like to get across to every single Floridian who is concerned about this issue, it is this: There is absolutely no risk to the Florida taxpayer in moving forward with the high-speed rail project,” Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said. “If the governor continues to maintain that there is risk to Florida taxpayers, it is inaccurate.”

Iorio, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields appeared at a press conference in front of Lakeland City Hall. Their message: The key to protecting the state of Florida from risk is the creation of a “non-recourse” entity that would be the recipient of the federal grant funds and build the high-sped rail line from Orlando to Tampa. The entity that receives the federal funds would be independent from the state and the cities involved, meaning that taxpayers would be protected from financial risk.

Gov. Rick Scott has refused federal money for the project. The gathering of mayors came just hours before the Florida Supreme Court was to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by two state senators who are suing him for rejecting the money. Read more here.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 1:54pm]

    

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