President Barack Obama stood in front of the Port of Miami Tunnel a few weeks ago to make clear that he supports private investment in public infrastructure. It turns out that Florida Gov. Rick Scott prefers federal money.
The Port of Miami project closed during the height of the global financial crisis. Its purpose is to prepare Miami for the expansion of the Panama Canal which will bring with it larger ships. Also, having a tunnel from port to major highways means that trucks will not go through downtown Miami increasing pollution and congestion.
The federal, state, local and private sectors all have skin in the game with the Port. However, it turns out that Gov. Scott wants the feds to buy out the state's interest.
Importantly, the project is funded in part by the federal TIFIA program. It provides loans and loan guarantees to local projects that need a little push to get going.
States though seek out this federal funding. In fact, one of the top users of this federal program is Florida. In the life of the TIFIA program, Florida has taken $1.2 billion. Moreover, the TIFIA money brought 5 billion outside dollars to the table for the state. In fact, Florida is second only to Texas in the amount of TIFIA money it has sought and secured.
Of course, Gov. Scott may only be exploiting his constituency's lack of knowledge about the intricacies of infrastructure funding for political gain.
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