Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected a suggestion by a fellow Republican, Sen Rick Scott, for governors and mayors to return funds from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation, Politico reported.
When asked about Scott’s recommendation, DeSantis said, ''It doesn’t make any sense.''
He explained, ''If Florida were to send the money back, [Treasury Secretary Janet] Yellen is going to send it to Illinois, California, New York or New Jersey. I don’t think that would make sense for Floridians — for us to be giving even more money to the blue states that already are getting such a big windfall in this bill.''
Instead, DeSantis discussed his plans for spending $4 billion of the up to $10 billion that could be coming to the state as part of the package.
The governor has suggested using the funds to reward law enforcement officers, paramedics and firefighters for their service, as well as increasing spending on tourism marketing and transportation projects.
Scott voted against the relief legislation in the Senate, calling it ''wasteful'' and insisted that ''anyone in state and local government who calls themselves a fiscal conservative should know that the funding in the Democrats’ massive spending bill is not free money. This money belongs to the taxpayers and lawmakers have a responsibility to spend it wisely.''
Scott has criticized local and state governments for treating the relief money like a ''slush fund'' and encouraged them to send back to Washington, D.C., any money that is not spent directly on coronavirus-related expenses.
''Let’s remember, we gave our states and locals $500 billion already to cover their COVID costs," Scott said, according to Florida Politics. ''All that money has not been spent. We think there’s about a trillion dollars from what we spent last year, committed last year, either at the federal level or the state level.''
The senator continued that if the funds received are ''not based on COVID response, you know, we ought to get the money back from all over the country.''
The relationship between the two Florida Republicans, both seen as potential presidential candidates in four years, has been frosty since DeSantis became governor, according to Politico.
Last year DeSantis auhorized a probe into the state’s problematic $77 million unemployment website portal that was set up when Scott was Florida's governor.
The portal repeatedly crashed during the pandemic, with the state’s chief inspector general saying both the Scott administration and the companies that built the portal were to blame.
Scott has a long history of harshly criticizing government spending and debt, including, as governor, canceling a high speed rail project that would travel to Florida and returning $2.4 billion in federal assistance for the plan.
DeSantis was also seen as a fiscal hawk who repeatedly complained about excessive spending while he was in Congress, but he has been utilizing federal assistance to balance Florida's budget during the pandemic.
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