If the latest round of COVID-19 relief funds includes extra money for Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ predecessor is urging him to give the surplus back to the federal government.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, offered the advisory comments Monday on the Fox News Channel’s “America Reports” with Sandra Smith and John Roberts.
The first-term Senator from Naples doubled down on a call made earlier this month to mayors and governors to reject and return money beyond what is needed specifically for COVID-19 relief, even when the question was framed as specific to Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis being “hard-pressed not to accept that money” by Fox’s Roberts.
Scott did not mention DeSantis’ name but made it clear there was no special dispensation for the Sunshine State, answering the question generally and offering his own term as Governor as an example of proper usage of federal funds.
“Let’s remember, we gave our states and locals $500 billion already to cover their COVID costs. 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.
“So look, if it has something to do with COVID response, just like when I was Governor, the federal government helped us with hurricanes, but look, if it’s not based on COVID response, you know, we ought to get the money back from all over the country,” Scott said.
The Senator went on to express “hope that every Mayor, every Governor says “money I don’t need, I’m going to give it back to the federal government.”
“It’s the responsible thing to do,” Scott said.
Scott did not offer any drill down critique of DeSantis’ budget practices, and the interview moved on to other topics.
Meredith Beatrice, DeSantis’ spokesperson, previously declined to comment on whether Florida will reject or return money it deems surplus.
While the Governor has condemned the bill as containing “massive amounts of waste,” his position is the funding formula punishes Florida, and seems to leave little latitude for giving back purportedly extra money to the Biden administration.
“We think we’re going to get about $2 billion dollars less as a result of the way they’re doing it,” DeSantis said. “It really does function as a bailout for blue states, poorly managed states. And if you manage states better, like Florida, then you get penalized. That’s fundamentally unfair.”
Scott issued a letter last week calling for refusal of the relief by subsidiary governments.
“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.