Letter: Breaking up with feds is hard to do
Sunday, June 5, 2011
John Laird’s May 29 column, “All together now: ‘Thanks, Florida!’” ridicules Gov. Rick Scott of Florida for turning down a $2.4 billion federal grant to build a high-speed rail link between Tampa and Orlando.
And then Laird praises Washington state officials for accepting a portion of those same federal dollars for a rail improvement project relating to the Port of Vancouver.
What Laird fails to mention are the reasons Scott refused those dollars: the anticipated ridership on the Florida line would not be enough to cover its projected operating expenses, and potential cost overruns could have cost the state of Florida up to $3 billion. Those seem like good reasons to me to turn down the federal funds.
Laird acknowledges that federal transportation dollars aren’t really “free” — they are paid for by our taxes. So, why shouldn’t we take back our share of those tax dollars, he asks?
Because it’s not that simple — about 40 percent of federal spending is now borrowed, and every dollar borrowed adds to our national debt, which is now ballooning to “unsustainable” levels, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
We owe it to ourselves and future generations not to spend our limited resources on unnecessary or foolish transportation projects, and sometimes that means saying “no” to the feds, like Gov. Scott did.