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Fla. Supreme Court hearing high-speed rail lawsuit

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Supreme Court is hearing oral argument in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to accept $2.4 billion in federal money for the proposed Tampa-Orlando high speed rail line.

The justices are holding the expedited hearing Thursday, just a day before the deadline for accepting the stimulus money.

It'll be sent to high speed projects in other states if Florida doesn't take it.

Two state senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, sued. They say state law gives the Republican governor no choice but to take the money.

Scott disagrees and says the project because will leave Florida taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns and operating subsidies. Rail boosters say he's wrong.

Meanwhile, the mayors from Lakeland, Tampa and Orlando met in Lakeland to discuss the high-speed rail project.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields, of the "I-4 Super Region", discussed their actions in partnership with the United States Department of Transportation to address Scott's concerns about the project and ensure that it can be built with no cost and no risk to Florida taxpayers.

The high-speed rail line would stretch between Tampa and Orlando and eventually connect with Miami.

The three mayors said they sent a letter to Scott in which they said they hope he will reconsider his decision. They reiterated that the plan will not put tax taxpayers at risk.

"If there is one point I would like to get across to every single Floridian who is concerned about this issue it is this, there is absolutely no risk to the Florida taxpayer in moving forward with the high-speed rail project," Iorio said. "If the governor continues to maintain that there is risk to the Florida taxpayer, that is inaccurate."

The three mayors said they have been working the Miami mayor and other local businesses to bring the rail to Florida.

"If you think we're passionate about it, you're correct," said Fields. "We cannot do it with the government doing it all alone, that is what our passion is all about. Cities are working together today because doing it alone doesn't work anymore. The government doing it alone is not going to work anymore either."

The Associated Press and Bay News 9 contributed to this report.

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