It’s an amazing thing to watch as news of the CSX deal reaches others who recognize the citizens of Florida are getting railroaded….
Here are select paragraphs from some recent editorials.
Block railway bailout — Palm Beach Post
The sweetheart deal that the Florida Department of Transportation negotiated behind the scenes last year and signed with CSX Corp. would give even the term “corporate welfare” a bad name.
On Tuesday, Gov. Crist held a media event to praise Sunshine Week, the celebration of the state’s open-records and open-meetings laws. If he’s true to that sentiment, the governor also will reject a deal – if it gets to his desk – that excessively subsidizes a private company and puts the public on the hook for that company’s wrongdoing. This trade-off doesn’t work for Florida.
A capital railroad job – Ocala Star-Banner
It is no surprise that Florida lawmakers are questioning why railroad giant CSX is being given $491 million in taxpayer dollars, especially given the state’s budget crisis and the company’s $1.3 billion profit last year. What is surprising is that it took more than two years after the massive allocation was quietly slipped into the state transportation budget before anyone raised a fuss. (Ed. Note: Oh, there was some fussin’ long before this.)
Whether the CSX project is a good one or a bad one is no longer the question. What is the question is whether $491 million should be earmarked without the knowledge and vetting by the people and their elected representatives. We know this much: that kind of transportation money would go a long way right now to fix roads and bridges and create jobs for Floridians.
Shame on the architects of the CSX deal. The people got railroaded on this one.
Subsidy To CSX Is Needed In Other Places — Polk County Democrat
We think the Legislature needs to devote a lot more study, and let a lot more Florida Sunshine focus on this proposal.
As a minimum, we think this is a project that the state, in its current financial condition, cannot afford.
If it’s a great idea this year, it will still be a great idea next year. And by then, perhaps its greatness would pass muster with the taxpayers.
The Tale Of Two States — The Ledger (of at least West and maybe all of Polk County)
While many legislators in Tallahassee are rolling over for CSX, those in Massachusetts are asking some hard questions. Rep. Robert P. Spellane, said CSX wanted “the taxpayer to assume all liability, regardless of fault, which to me is just fundamentally wrong. When in society do we ask some people to take responsibility for other people’s actions?”
Good question. Why aren’t more legislators in Florida asking the same thing?
Put brakes on rail project in Orlando – St. Petersburg Times
The issue here is not whether Orlando needs commuter rail, but at what cost to taxpayers and impact to nearby communities. Rail in Orlando would ease congestion on Interstate 4 and form the backbone of a statewide transit system. But recent appraisals suggest the state is spending at least $70-million more than it might have paid for just the rail property. Officials need to explain how they settled on a price and how the money to move forward was slipped through the Legislature with little or no public discussion of the project’s scope.
Editorial: CSX pot gets sweeter — Gainesville Sun
Rep. Richard Glorioso, a Plant City Republican who chairs the panel, argued at last week’s hearing that the deal would collapse without the indemnity – a crucial factor considering the estimated $615 million it would cost the state to build the commuter line itself.
Its demise, however, would be better than to allow this ludicrous provision to burden taxpayers. Lawmakers should instead force proponents of this deal – within the Legislature, the Crist administration and the company – to do what ought to have occurred three years ago when the money was tucked away in a major growth management bill: fully explain how this benefits the citizens, especially those outside Orlando.
Secret Deal For Railroad Hub Lays Bare Shady Practices At DOT – Tampa Tribune
Last week they said the price increase had to do with rising construction costs for overpasses. In August 2006, the cost of improvements to a CSX freight line included five highway overpasses the state said would cost $59 million. The projected cost is now $203 million, though DOT insists the overpasses were planned not to meet the demands of increased freight traffic, but to meet the needs of drivers on congested roads.
So why did the department add the price increases into the CSX deal? And why should taxpayers trust these numbers?
It’s time for Crist to pull this contract and renegotiate it on behalf of all Floridians.
Crist’s silence is unbecoming for a governor who says he believes in transparency.