Gov. Scott gives backhanded welcome to Obama’s PortMiami visit

Gov. Rick Scott is saying it’s payback time as President Barrack Obama gets ready to visit PortMiami on Friday.

One of Scott’s earlier acts as governor was to find $77 million to plug a funding gap so PortMiami could get dredging needed to accommodate post-Panamax ships that will come through the expanded Panama Canal. Scott said the state is paying 75 percent of the cost.

Scott wants Obama to reimburse $75 million for PortMiami, so the state can then put the money in a fund for other port investments. Port Everglades would love to get some money so it can also do a dredging project for the new ships.

“We want the president to step up to the plate in Miami tomorrow and reimburse our state millions of dollars that we can reinvest in our ports and support even more job creation,” Scott said in a press release. He said Obama was “late to the party on Florida port investment.”

Obama’s visit will close PortMiami to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from 12:30 to 2:45 p.m. on Friday. Cruise passengers, including those for Royal Caribbean’sMajesty of the Seas, were being advised to check with their cruise lines on avoiding embarkation at those times.

Politico said Telemundo and Univision will have interviews with Obama about immigration reform that will air at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

The White House said Obama will talk about the economy at PortMiami, which should provide an apt setting of activity.

Scott said state taxpayers have invested $425 million in ports to take advantage of the benefits of trade with Central and South America, and to prepare the state for the expansion of the Panama Canal and the potential for increased trade with Asia.

PortMiami is also getting a tunnel to the MacArthur Causeway, which will help take trucks off of downtown Miami roads. The Florida East Coast Railway is also getting governmental funding to build new intermodal yards at PortMiami and Port Everglades.

Scott also pointed to the state stepping up with a $38 million investment for Jacksonville’s Jaxport to improve its turning notch and address navigation difficulties.

“Once again, the state taxpayers stepped up when the federal government did not,” he said.

Scott’s press release said international trade moving through Florida seaports was valued at $82.7 billion in 2011 – up nearly 19 percent from 2010. Florida’s $42.8 billion in exports was fourth among all states. Florida also had $39.9 billion in imports.

“These activities contribute $1.7 billion in state and local tax revenues. That is why we have made port investment one of the top economic priorities of our administration,” Scott said. He estimated more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $66 billion in total economic value are connected to ports.

Scott said he expects that 143,000 more jobs and $21.5 billion if the state can invest more in ports.

Finally, Scott took a swipe at the discord in the nation’s capital: “We did this while tightening the belt on state government and investing in state priorities that support job growth and education. We want Washington and the world to take notice. Smart economic policies work. They are working in Florida.”


Source : Kevin Gale

Miami Information