Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stimulating Florida

After saying that we don’t need the money, including billions for high-speed rail, Gov. Rick Scott has quietly included nearly $370 million of President Obama’s stimulus funds in the state budget.

Scott’s decision to keep the stimulus money stands out in a year when the governor touted record budget vetoes of up to $615 million. He emphasized the vetoes of “wasteful” spending at a Thursday event that featured a campaign-style “Promises Made, Promises Kept” banner.

But as he ran for office last summer, Scott said he “would fight all the stimulus money.” He also told reporters “I would have figured out how to balance the budget without it.”

When asked Tuesday why he appeared to reverse himself by keeping stimulus money, Scott didn’t specifically answer.

“I think the stimulus was not good for our state, made us more dependent on the federal government,” he said, echoing a budget-signing letter he issued last week. “I think that we’ve got to watch how we spend money. As you know, in the budget, I focused very much on how we spend our money, stopping the growth of debt in our state and making our state less dependent on the federal government.”

The stimulus money Scott and Republican legislators approved touch every corner of the state: $290 million to improve electronic medical records, $4.2 million to aid disadvantaged children, $3.2 million for fighting wildfires, $12.5 million for drug courts, $8.6 million for county health departments, $1 million to fight infectious diseases, and $4.4 million to help public defenders and prosecutors.

I don’t begrudge him keeping the money; I’m glad we’ve got the funds to pay for these essential services. I really wish he wasn’t such a flaming hypocrite about it, but it would be an event if he and the rest of the GOP weren’t. Bashing the stimulus while taking credit for it is their shtick now.

I also want to know where he’s going to come up with the money to pay for the services once the stimulus money is gone.