Rick Scott made an issue Thursday on Port funding asking the Federal Government to reimburse Florida taxpayers $75 million for the Port of Miami dredging project. Governor Scott is correct on this issue as he was regarding his January request for upwards of $36 million in state funding for Jacksonville port improvements. Building Florida’s port infrastructure will ensure the long term viability as the state’s role as a commercial hub and fuel job growth in the emerging international economy.
Florida can emerge as a transport and commercial hub for the Americas, particularly with the current Panama Canal project underway. Improvements in Jacksonville will continue to grow the port as the destination for commercial goods arriving from Europe, including cars and farm equipment. The Governor is correct to want some reimbursement to Florida taxpayers for this investment, but wrong when he implies that the Feds have not taken any interest financially in this effort.
One thing the Governor does fail to acknowledge is the amount of stimulus money spent on the Port of Miami tunnel project, perhaps an expensive boondoggle (which I as a proponent of Port Everglades have an issue with since access to that Port, a busier cargo port will now be more difficult than to the Port of Miami) but one which has put many people to work in addition to fulfilling the Governor’s purported vision of Miami as a major commercial hub for the Americas.
So the Federal Government specifically the Obama Administration has made some effort, albeit not a strong enough effort to fund these improvements. Considering both the state of Florida and the nation’s international trade will benefit from the improvements to Florida’s ports, it is important that Scott and President Obama come together on this issue and put partisanship and political posturing (which the Governor is becoming increasingly good at given his sagging reelection hopes) aside to accomplish this common goal.