Fla. Gov. Rick Scott tackles questions on rail from Tampa Bay Bucs coach

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Scott replied with the argument he made in February, when he became the third newly elected Republican governor to turn down money from the Obama administration for what the president envisioned as a nationwide network of railways: that it was a bad deal for Florida taxpayers.

“The high-speed rail?" Scott said, according to the Times. "I’ll do that deal for you. Here’s the deal. It’s a great deal … I’m going to give you $2.4 billion, you have to put up a billion. You have to lose, oh, $100 million or so a year … And if you ever get tired, you have to give me my $2.4 billion back.”

Morris quickly retorted, "It sounds like free agency," the paper said.

Scott made a similar claim about the railway in a subsequent television interview, leading the Times's Politifact website to examine the claim. After reviewing the facts surrounding the proposal, the site rated the claim "false." 

"Scott bases his claims on hypothetical cost overruns from a suspect study written by a libertarian think tank," the site wrote. "While the study correctly points out that other transportation projects have experienced cost overruns, there are several flaws with the study. Most importantly, the study assumes that the state would pay for cost overruns.

"But that ignores that both the state official in charge of the rail project and the U.S. Department of Transportation secretary said that the state wouldn't be liable for overruns," the site continued. "And legislators were keen on having it happen that way before fully embracing the high-speed rail line. In the end, the state's share to build the line would have been capped at around $280 million (and legislators hoped the final number would be even less)."

Scott sharply criticized the Obama administration for increasing government spending when he turned down the high-speed rail money a month after he took office.

The money would have been used for a long-sought railway between Tampa and Orlando.

The proposed railway had once been put in the Florida constitution by voters in 2000, but the plan was removed from state law in 2004 after a campaign by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) that it was too expensive for the state to build.

Rail advocates in Florida were disappointed Scott rejected the Obama administration's offer because the federal government was offering to pay 90 percent of the construction for the railway.

If the proposal had been approved, plans called for the line to eventually be extended from Orlando to Miami. 

After the rail rejection and a series of other unpopular decisions, Scott's poll numbers fell dramatically in his first six months in office, though recent surveys have shown him rebounding slightly. A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed 35 percent of Florida voters approved of Scott's job performance.

Two months ago, the university's polling showed Scott at just 29 percent.