The Wrap: Florida’s Death Train Kills Again; GOP circles Democrats on school choice
In the news this week:
THE BRIGHTLINE “DEATH TRAIN” – ANOTHER HIGH-SPEED RAILBOONDOGLE
Remember in 2011, when the governor at the time Rick Scott tried to get the president by Barack Obama the feds to let Florida convert $2 billion of federal high-speed rail money into money for port expansion and highways, but Obama said no? It turns out that Scott correctly predicted that committing billions of dollars to building a high-speed rail line would turn into a disastrous financial mess that would never deliver on its promise. Obama made a big send-off show “Florida’s money” in Californiawho foolishly advanced with his own high speed rail disaster that will never end as promisedlargely because there will never be enough money to build it.
Enter Brightline, the supposedly privately funded high-speed rail project with promises of fast trips between Miami and Orlando (and maybe one day even Tampa), all at no cost to taxpayers. It turns out that none of those promises came to fruition. For starters, Brightline is not technically a “high speed” rail and never will be. To be profitable, which “privately financed” projects must be, it turns out that more stops are needed along the route in order to pick up more paying passengers. But more stops means less time to travel at high speed, turning Brightline into a regular old passenger train. Cars can drive from Miami to Orlando in roughly the same time – and their passengers don’t need a ride to and from the station.
But Brightline’s failures aren’t limited to its slow speed. Rail service too is not fully funded by the private sector. From tax-exempt bonds and federally backed loans to local government-funded station shutdowns and improvements, the price of all taxpayer-funded government donations to Brightline totals more than $1 billion (and more).
And then there are the dead and injured. Many of them. Nearly 50 people have been killed by Brightline trains since they began operations. The number of deaths has increased so much that last week even the Miami Herald felt compelled to quantify Brightline’s horrific death toll and concluded that Brightline had the worst safety record of any rail line in the country. Of course, being the Miami Heraldthey attempted to blame the governor’s administration Ron DeSantisbut I hope that now regular readers of The Capitolist have learned to ignore all of this.
Unfortunately, this week, just a few days after the Herald’s story was published, another man was killed by Brightline’s ‘death train’ something that local communities who did not want the train to pass through their neighborhoods tried for years to warn everyone.
Ultimately, trains are great for transporting large volumes of goods across the country, but less so for competing with passenger-carrying automobiles. And with the constant development towards high-efficiency autonomous vehicles, the cause of passenger trains is becoming more and more difficult to defend, but state and national Democrats (and their media supporters) can’t seem to let go.
FLORIDA REPUBLICANS RUNNING CIRCLES AROUND DEMOCRATS OVER SCHOOL CHOICE
This week, some of Florida’s GOP leaders rallied in the state capitol’s courtyard in Tallahassee to promote more school choice options for parents. Wednesday’s event was part of National School Choice Week, which focused on greater flexibility in the areas of open public school enrollment, charter schools, online education, school choice scholarships and home schooling assistance.
“The best thing about today’s gathering was seeing all the kids celebrating that they’re in a school of choice that works well for them and that they love,” said Erika Donalds, President of Optima Foundation, a non-profit group focused on creating and expanding schools of choice. “We are all here, along with these wonderful children, to encourage our legislators to continue to expand school choice so that every child in Florida can attend a school they love and will help them succeed.”
Florida Democrats, longtime champions of increased funding for public schools, were largely absent from the event.
The Republican push to maximize school choice options is one such competitive advantage that is forcing Democrats to choose between the politically powerful teachers’ union and Florida parents who are increasingly dissatisfied with education options. public schools for their children. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the dilemma even more acute, with parents desperate for school options that can consistently deliver quality education in the face of constant policy changes, mask mandates and… other challenges.
Skylar Zandarstate director of Americans for Prosperity, summed it up nicely:
“To give Florida children a real chance of academic success, we need to provide an education system that works for each of them and puts their individual needs first,” says Zandar. “That means we need to move from one-size-fits-all approaches to tailor-made education options for students.”
During the 2018 gubernatorial contest between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum, a post-election analysis found that about 100,000 black mothers, or about 18% of the estimated 650,000 who voted in the election, backed DeSantis specifically because of his support for school choice for their children. Gillum’s underperformance in this demographic was a major contributing factor to his loss.
While Democrats may not have internalized the lesson, Republican leaders like the Speaker of the House Chris Sprows certainly have.
“Growing up in America means you have the opportunity and the right to get the education that’s best for you, for your future, for your family — because you matter,” Sprows said at the rally. “It’s what we believe in, and it’s a message of hope, it’s a message of opportunity, it’s a message of belief that there’s nothing our kids can’t. To do.