Constitutional Collision Course: Governor Rick Scott and the Refusal of High Speed Rail Stimulus Funds

Francis Henry Kurtz

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Master of Liberal Arts for Florida Studies, Department of Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, July 11, 2013.

Abstract

The State of Florida has consistently, over the past forty years, studied the feasibility of constructing a high speed rail system. Every proposed high speed rail system in Florida has been halted at some point during the planning or construction phases. This study looks at those previously proposed projects in addition to the history of railroading in Florida. The economic and political conditions that were in place in the late 2000s that allowed President Barack Obama to win the Presidency and implement his economic vision will be reviewed. This study will also examine Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to decline funds to construct a high speed rail line in Florida from Orlando to Tampa, and a later segment from Orlando to Miami. Also included is an overview of local mass transit systems in the Tampa Bay Area, Central Florida, and South Florida. The research reveals that Scott’s actions were politically motivated, and congruent with similar actions that he took in his first year as Florida’s Governor, and in politics. With his second year in iv office, Scott has toned down his agenda and now better navigates his position as a politician in Florida.