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April 16th, 2009 1:15 PM by David W. Welch
I spent the better part of the last two days in Tallahassee speaking with our elected representatives and attending committee meetings regarding issues that range from commuter rail to septic tanks. Some of the meetings went very well, and were more of a chance to meet and greet and thank people for doing a great job. Other meetings were very frustrating as you watch elected officials using the system to their advantage to get their way. In at least one meeting I felt like we may have made a difference, and learned more about our representatives issues that they are concerned about.
I would like to thank Senators Andy Gardiner, Lee Constantine and Gary Siplin for meeting with members of our delegation. I would also like to thank Represetative Eric Eisnaugle, and Representative Geraldine Thompson's aid for meeting with us as well. I know there were others that took time out of their hectic schedules to meet with others from our team. If you live elsewhere in Florida, and believe that rail will have an impact on your local traffic and way of life, please contact your senator and tell them to support SunRail. This is not just an Orlando issue. It is not just a Central Florida issue, but something that effects the state as a whole. Is the current resolution perfect? No, but what compromise ever is. Unfortunately, Senator Dockery whose husband lost millions on the now defunct high speed rail amendment, is now trying to do the same to SunRail and future rail projects in Florida.
Our team met with Senator Siplin, who is the only Central Florida representative that has not been in support of commuter rail. His primary concern is funding education. We heard his concerns about funding education, but the dollars for the rail cannot be spent on education. If the federal dollars are not spent on this project, they will go to another state. This happened eight years ago, and Charlotte NC was the big winner. They now operate well above their financial projections, and their citizens enjoy all the benefits that could have been enjoyed here in the sunshine state. Our entire team felt like Senator Siplin heard our message. I hope that he understands that we heard his too.
I told him as we left that I am in his district, my daughters attend public schools and my wife is a public school teacher. Nobody understands the need to fully fund our schools, but this money comes out of a completely different fund and cannot go to schools. Commuter rail will put a lot of people in Senator Siplins district to work and provide a significant benefit to the local economies around the rail stops. That will lead to an estimate $8 billion economic impact to the area broadening and deeping the tax base. That is the only true way to guarantee fully funding education.
David Welch, Real Estate Optimist, Follow me on Twitter