The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sens. Arthenia Joyner, Thad Altman sue Rick Scott over bullet train today

1

March

Two Florida senators just sued Gov. Rick Scott in the Florida Supreme Court to stop him from killing a Tampa-Orlando bullet train.

Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and Republican Thad Altman of Melbourne said Scott had over-stepped his authority by rejecting the project, which received a green light after a December 2009 special legislative session about passenger rail. The lawsuit would force Scott to accept about $2.4 billion in federal transit money for the high-speed rail plan.

Joyner said Scott’s decision two weeks ago to kill the rail project would cost the state jobs.

"Its all about jobs and getting Florida back to work," Joyner said, echoing Scott's campaign motto.

The suit wants the court to order Scott to "expeditiously accept" the federal money. It also seeks an injunction if necessary. Altman said they may need more time from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to ensure that Florida gets the money it was promised.

Details of the suit are sketchy at the moment because the court action was just filed. Altman and Joyner plan to have a press conference later today.

The lawsuit caps a mad two weeks of political posturing in which Scott unexpected declared he wouldn’t take the federal money because he worried the state would ultimately "be on the hook" for project cost over-runs and the cost of operating the train.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate who voted for the rail legislation, belatedly joined Scott in condemning the federal spending for the bullet train.

Cheered on by tea party conservatives, Scott also said he worried the state would have to pay back $2.4 billion in rail money to the feds.

LaHood had a simple reply to that statement from Florida’s governor: "It’s baloney."

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[Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 2:56pm]

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