While South Carolina spent the last few weeks embroiled in a debate over $700 million (today's round included rallies across the state and multiple media interviews for Gov. Mark Sanford), nearby states have provided real world examples of what it looks like to move on.
Last week, Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood held a roundtable discussion with elected leaders from various states to talk about the $13 billion in stimulus money that will go toward high-speed rail programs. Attendees at the roundtable included Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and state transportation officials from North Carolina and Florida.
South Carolina has been criticized recently for not investing more in high-speed rail. As it currently stands, our best bet for rail is in connecting Charlotte and Atlanta. A release from the federal DOT notes that "high-speed rail has the potential to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, lower harmful carbon emissions, foster new economic development, and give travelers more choices when it comes to moving around the country."
This week, five Southern governors will be speaking at an energy forum organized by the Southern Growth Policies Board. Energy alternatives and the emerging businesses that will go along with it are a key part of stimulus funding. The two day conference in Biloxi, Miss., will include comments from Perdue, as well as governors Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Mike Beebe of Arkansas, Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.