‘Doesn’t make any sense’: DeSantis rejects Rick Scott’s call to return stimulus money
Scott, who voted against the package, has called the legislation “wasteful” and on Monday said 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 accused local and state governments of treating the relief package like a “slush fund” and urged to send back to Washington any money that is not spent directly on Covid-related expenses.
DeSantis and Scott, both seen as potential presidential candidates in 2024, have had a frosty relationship since DeSantis entered office. DeSantis last year authorized an investigation into Florida’s deeply troubled $77 million unemployment website portal that was established when Scott served as the state’s governor. The site repeatedly crashed during the pandemic and the state’s chief inspector general faulted the companies that built the portal and the Scott administration.
Scott, a billionaire former health care executive who came into office as Florida’s governor in 2010 as part of the tea party wave, has a long history of railing about government spending and debt. He famously canceled a high speed rail project destined for Florida and returned $2.4 billion in federal assistance for the program.
Scott’s office declined to comment on DeSantis’s refusal to return the stimulus money, pointing instead to previous statements made by Scott.
Scott last July also called on governors to detail how they were spending billions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds from the Congress-approved CARES Act. The DeSantis administration rejected his request.
When he was in Congress, DeSantis was seen as a fiscal hawk who repeatedly complained about excessive spending. But he’s been relying on federal assistance to balance Florida’s budget amid the economic fallout from the pandemic.
DeSantis this past month has repeatedly complained that Florida wasn’t getting its fair share in the rescue package because money was being allocated to states based on their unemployment rate instead of by population.