Governments that believe they have gotten too much money in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act have been advised by Sen. Rick Scott to “reject and return” so-called “excess” money.
“I am writing you today with a simple and common sense request: each state and local government should commit to reject and return any federal funding in excess of your reimbursable COVID-19-related expenses. This commitment will serve the best interests of hard working American taxpayers and will send a clear message to Washington: politicians in Congress should quit recklessly spending other people’s money,” Scott counseled.
The House passed the Senate version of the relief package Wednesday.
The first-term Republican Senator and former Governor of Florida noted that “state and local governments are set to receive an additional $360 billion in taxpayer dollars, wholly unrelated to responding to the pandemic.” It is unclear if his definition of “unrelated” jibes with that of the affected leaders.
“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 adds.
“As mayors and governors, you understand the importance of living within your means and budgeting responsibly so that you are delivering the best possible service to your communities, ensuring maximum return on any government spending and eliminating debt wherever 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. After all, every dollar in this package is borrowed.”
Scott’s call to reject and return purportedly excess money represents a change in messaging on the stimulus bill. Previously, Scott had hewed to the “blue state bailout” line, and he has contended that the funding formula shorts Florida because it is tied to official unemployment numbers.
Meredith Beatrice, spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, declined to comment on whether Florida will reject or return money it deems surplus. DeSantis has said that the bill penalizes “free state” Florida for its economic success compared to what he calls “lockdown states.“