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Florida Rep. cites state woes in call for high-speed rail money

(The following story by Ted Jackovics appeared on the Tampa Tribune website on January 7, 2010.)

TAMPA, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor told President Barack Obama in a letter this week that Florida needs the jobs and economic investments high-speed rail can provide more than any other state.

Florida has applied for $2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to build a high-speed line between Tampa and Orlando. The state's application indicates the project would create up to 15,000 construction jobs, with additional permanent jobs supporting passenger service by 2014.

The Obama administration will decide in the next month or two which states will get portions of an initial $8 billion funding pool designated for high-speed rail, Castor said Wednesday.

"We've got to fight for these jobs," said the Tampa Democrat, who has been in touch weekly with White House and Department of Transportation officials.

In her letter dated Tuesday, Castor highlighted statistics that are not part of Florida's official high-speed rail application, including:

•Florida's unemployment rate is 11.5 percent, higher than the national average and up from 9 percent a year ago.

The number of food stamp recipients in Florida has nearly doubled to 2.3 million since 2007.

Florida has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one in every 165 housing units receiving a foreclosure ruling in November alone.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

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