Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is blasting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Wednesday morning budget signing, which sealed a $101.5 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year.
U.S. Rep. Crist is joining other state Democrats in scrutinizing his opponent’s silence on the aid brought by President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan incorporated into the state budget.
“Here’s a fact check for Gov. DeSantis: the funding that made this budget possible was delivered by the American Rescue Plan I fought for in Congress alongside President Joe Biden,” Crist said in a statement. “Without the American Rescue Plan, Florida would be facing harsh budget cuts — but Gov. DeSantis is so focused on dividing Floridians for personal gain that he can’t admit that. He can’t tell the truth.”
A Biden priority, the Governor lamented the deal since its inception.
The Governor instead credited lawmakers with spending conservatively and responsibly when signing the budget. He also cited resisting lockdowns and prioritizing vaccinations to the 65 and older population with keeping the state’s economy afloat.
“While Gov. DeSantis will try to claim credit today, the truth is that he opposed the American Rescue Plan,” Crist said in a statement. “He opposed the funding that is providing bonuses to teachers and first responders. He opposed the funding that is helping cities and schools recover from a challenging year. And he opposed the direct relief checks that were a lifeline as our economy recovers.”
Lawmakers had expected Florida to get around $10 billion in American Rescue Plan relief, but Florida only looks to get $8.8 billion, leading, in part, the Governor to veto $1.5 billion in spending — $1.35 billion coming from the latest round of the federal COVID-19 relief plan.
“They do whatever they can to hurt states like Florida, and to help states that were locked down,” DeSantis said at the budget signing Wednesday morning.
The biggest veto item from the Governor is the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which accounts for $1 billion of the $1.35 billion in cuts from American Rescue Plan funds. The Governor vetoed that after federal guidance on spending signaled a possible showdown with the feds.
“This isn’t leadership. It’s hypocrisy and partisan point-scoring at a time when Floridians are looking for a leader who will bring them together,” Crist continued in his statement. “Florida deserves better, and that’s why I’m running for Governor: to build a Florida for all Floridians.”