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Sen. Rick Scott to governors, mayors: Don't accept 'wasteful' federal funds

Former Florida governor urges Gov. Ron DeSantis, others to reject, return coronavirus stimulus money
Sen. Rick Scott in February 2021
Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 11, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has a message for the man who succeeded him as governor: don't accept the federal coronavirus stimulus money.

The former Florida governor sent an open letter to governors and mayors across the U.S., including current Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging them to reject and return any federal funding from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package in excess of their reimbursable COVID-19 costs.

Scott said Wednesday on Twitter that the country "cannot afford to waste another tax dollar."

Calling Biden's plan "massive, wasteful and non-targeted," Scott's letter took aim at Democrats in Congress for passing "five bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages dedicating almost $4.5 trillion in federal spending, including nearly $400 billion in taxpayer funding to state and local governments."

Scott went on to criticize his Democratic colleagues for passing the latest package, which will allocate "an additional $360 billion in taxpayer dollars, wholly unrelated to responding to the pandemic."

"Democrats rushed this spending through Congress without a single Republican vote and against growing evidence that local and state tax revenue did not suffer the massive downturn predicted when lockdowns began," Scott wrote, calling out California for "adding more than $22 billion to its reserves."

Scott added that "politicians in Congress should quit recklessly spending other people's money."

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency," Scott wrote. "Just as it does for other major disasters, the federal government has an important role to play in helping state and municipal governments offset the costs of COVID-19 response. However, American taxpayer dollars should not be used as bonus cash to plug budget holes caused by decades of poor fiscal management. This is not a taxpayer-funded bailout; it is a reimbursement for specific, COVID-related expenses."

Scott said the mayors and governors "understand the importance of living within your means and budgeting responsibly" to provide "the best possible service to your communities, ensuring maximum return on any government spending and eliminating debt whenever possible."

"By rejecting and returning any unneeded funds, as well as funds unrelated to COVID-19, you would be taking responsible action to avoid wasting scarce tax dollars," Scott wrote. "After all, every dollar in this package is borrowed."

Although DeSantis has yet to address Scott's request, DeSantis said earlier this week that Congress seems to be rewarding "lockdown states" like California and New York by not dispersing funding on a per capita basis, which was the case under the CARES Act.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces Florida lowering COVID-19 vaccine age requirements to 60+ starting March 15 (25 minutes)

"All those states have something in common -- they're all deep blue states under Democrat control and they're lockdown states," DeSantis said during a news conference Monday in Tallahassee.

DeSantis said the latest round of funding punishes Florida.

"I think it's designed, basically, to bail out the poorly governed states," he said. "Florida's being penalized for having more successful outcomes, and that is not fair."

This article was written by Peter Burke for WPTV.