Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Refuse temporary federal funds that create permanent spending


"Refuse temporary funding from the federal government that creates permanent spending in Florida."


Updates

Scott killed high-speed rail in 2011

As he talked about ways to better manage Florida's fiscal house, Rick Scott promised during his campaign for governor to "refuse temporary funding from the federal government that creates permanent spending in Florida."

This promise partially overlaps with a separate goal we are tracking, to "Balance the budget — without gimmicks, one-time revenues, borrowed funds, temporary funds, or tax increases."

Let's look at a few high-profile examples of federal money.

High-speed rail: On Feb. 16, 2011, Scott rejected $2.4 billion from the federal government for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando. Among his reasons: the cost for the state. "The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits," Scott said after nixing the project.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus): The Miami Herald explained in a May 31, 2011, article that Scott's budget included about $370 million in federal stimulus money but "unlike in the current and prior budget years, none of the stimulus money will directly help the state balance its $69.1 billion budget ... Most of the money he tacitly approved amounts to stimulus leftovers and pass-through grants that help various governmental agencies with specific tasks." The money went to a variety of projects including for county health departments and to improve electronic medical records, for example. The money was appropriated by the Legislature before Scott took office but it is included in the budget under his tenure.

Race to the Top: Florida was rejected for federal education dollars known as Race to the Top. The Palm Beach Post's blog, "Post on Politics," wrote that Scott said he thought Florida was turned down because the state wouldn't commit to continuing programs after federal dollars expired. "When Florida's application was submitted for the grant in October, we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached, additional state spending obligations, or requirements that created new burdensome regulations on private providers," Scott said.

Scott's communications office sent us this response about the promise on Dec. 28: "This promise was kept. The governor's budget recommendations for both fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13 were developed without relying on temporary federal funds that would create permanent spending. Furthermore, Florida's application for the Federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant was denied because we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached requiring additional state spending."

Scott rejected money for high-speed rail and Race to the Top. Stimulus money approved before Scott's tenure remained in the state budget but so far we can't point to any part of that and say that it created permanent state spending. We rate this Promise Kept.

Sources:

Miami Herald, "Gov. Rick Scott rejects funding for high-speed rail," Feb. 17, 2011

PolitiFact, "Gov. Rick Scott says rail would have cost state taxpayers $1 billion to build," Aug. 11, 2011

PolitiFact's Scott-O-Meter, "No budget gimmicks, one-time revenues, borrowed funds, temporary funds or tax increases," Accessed Dec. 29, 2011

Palm Beach Post's Post on Politics blog, "Scott rips feds for not giving Fla Race to the Top Dollars," Dec. 16, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott's communications office, Response to PolitiFact's questions on the Scott-O-Meter, Dec. 28, 2011