(TAMPA, Fla.) -- President Obama's vision for a national high-speed rail network was dealt a significant blow Friday when the Florida Supreme Court upheld Gov. Rick Scott's authority to unilaterally kill a cornerstone of the plan.
Scott last month rejected $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to fund new express train service between Orlando and Tampa that had been under consideration for decades.
The move was hailed by Scott's Tea Party supporters, but it was challenged by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who said the governor had exceeded his constitutional authority.
The court ruled that Scott acted legitimately, effectively ending prospects for completion of the rail project.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had set a deadline of Friday for Florida to accept the cash, which would have covered nearly all the costs, before offering it to one of 13 similar projects in 31 states.
Obama, who was to appear in Florida on Friday with former Gov. Jeb Bush to talk about education reform, had touted the Florida high-speed rail line as a positive example of how to improve the country's infrastructure.
But Scott repeatedly voiced concerns about the potential of cost-overruns and long-term operating costs that could hit Florida taxpayers.
The state of Florida faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit.
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