Florida’s former Governor continues to needle his successor about returning any federal stimulus money not related to COVID-19 relief.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott took to Fox News Thursday to chide Gov. Ron DeSantis and others for keeping the latest tranche of federal coronavirus relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act that don’t specifically cover virus expenses.
“Send it back! We’re all American citizens. Don’t waste the money,” the Naples Republican urged on America’s Newsroom.
DeSantis said previously that proposal doesn’t make sense, as the feds would just send the money to “blue states.”
“As my mom told me, two wrongs don’t make a right. We know it’s wrong to waste taxpayer money. Don’t waste the money,” Scott said, saying he’d be “surprised” if the money was actually needed for COVID-19 expenses given that the federal government had already sent $500 billion for those purposes.
Scott went on to suggest that local and state officials would send the money back, when asked by host Bill Hemmer if any had committed to do so yet.
“Not yet. But it’s going to happen,” Scott said.
Even as Scott asserts that DeSantis and others should send the money back, the Governor is programming federal virus relief money, including for a new civics education initiative in the state of Florida.
On Wednesday in Naples, DeSantis rolled out the Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative: an ambitious proposal to use $116 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to ramp up civics education.
The one-time money from the CARES Act funded Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund would, in theory, make Florida “the national leader in civics education” and “get politicization out of the curriculum.”
“The money’s there,” DeSantis advised. “We need to figure out the best way to do it.”
The goal is to provide “high-quality civics education,” under the auspices of the state Department of Education, with certification in the form of a “seal of excellence” and a $3,000 bonus for qualifying teachers.
The Governor is seeking legislative authorization even though he didn’t necessarily have to.
“We got this money dumped,” DeSantis noted. “I could have just spent it and said it was emergency spending.”
DeSantis has said that Florida got shortchanged on the formula, which tied allocations to official unemployment rates, but he clearly will not reject and return the money as Scott hopes.