Ring rails against Scott decision, predicts ripple effect on investors
Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Lauderdale Lakes Democrat and one of the founders of Yahoo.com, said Gov. Rick Scott's decision to cancel the high-speed rail will send a negative message to venture capitalists considering whether to invest in Florida.
"Rarely do you use Florida and innovation in the same sentence, and this had a chance to bring us into a 21st century economy,'' Ring said. "All it does is take us back to the 20th century economy which collapsed on us and it's not coming back. We've got 400,000 vacant homes in this state, and unless we innovate we're not going to compete on a global scale. We keep using the word jobs. It's not about jobs initially; it's about creating an environment for jobs and wealth and opportunity. This put us on the map to really be an innovative leader nationally and globally. This sets us way back.''
Ring, one of the sponsors of last year's legislation that enabled state development of the current high-speed rail initiative, said he doesn't believe the ridership projections used by opponents of the project. "All those people who say they wouldn't ride it, imagine being on I-4 during a high-traffic time and see a train running by at 120 mph. You're going to be on it the next day,'' he said. "I do think people will use it and the interconnection of Florida regions will make Florida more powerful and attractive."
He called it a "major, major, major decision -- a wrong decision -- that will change the dynamics of transportation for the next 50 years." He said that the emergence of Yahoo, Google and eBay in the 1990s created so many jobs and so much wealth that it put money into the community and allowed it to thrive. "That sort of innovation economy is never going to exist in Florida if we continue to make decisions like this decision."