A group of Republican governors, in an attempt to bolster their fiscal conservative credentials, have stopped funding for high-profile infrastructure projects. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), for instance, refused to continue building a rail tunnel under the Hudson river. Both Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) — when he wasn’t threatening to call the National Guard on state employees — and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) turned down funding for high-speed rail projects that was included in the 2009 Recovery Act.
These governors, in addition to intentionally refusing to upgrade their states’ infrastructure, also killed the jobs that such large projects create, both for those working directly on the projects and the suppliers whose products are necessary for the construction. And joining their ranks today was Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), who turned down funding for a high-speed rail line from Tampa Bay to Orlando. Blocking the project will prevent tens of thousands of jobs from being created:
Building the Tampa-Orlando HSR line is projected to create 23,000 job-years of direct construction jobs and more than 48,000 job-years of work through both direct and spin-off employment during the four-year construction period. The peak employment period will be between the fall of 2012 and 2014 when close to 10,000 workers are expected to be directly employed in building the system. FDOT further estimates the system will employ approximately 600 people once operation starts and another 500 indirectly on an on-going basis.
The money that Scott turned down was actually redirected to Florida after Walker and Kasich passed on it (and it could have created 10,000 jobs in Wisconsin or 16,000 in Ohio). When the Department of Transportation redirected the money to Florida, both Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. John Mica (R-FL) hailed the move. “Additional federal funding for the new Orlando to Tampa passenger rail link should ensure the project’s chance for successful completion,” said Mica. “The federal government has stepped up and done its part,” Nelson added. “There should be no reason now why this can’t get done.” Mica personally appealed to the governor to reconsider his decision today.
In addition, nearly three dozen small businesses, mostly from the Tampa area, wrote to Scott yesterday urging him to support the rail project. “The benefits to the community are both economic and environmental,” said Carla Jimenez, co-owner of Inkwood Books in Tampa. The project also has the support of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida.
One of the cornerstones of Scott’s gubernatorial campaign was his his “7-7-7” jobs plan, which he claimed would create 700,000 jobs in seven years. But instead of following through, Scott has actively worked to undermine employment. In addition to killing the high-speed rail project, Scott released a budget proposal that calls for laying off 8,700 state employees.