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Florida’s DeSantis relies on federal relief funds he opposed



As the economy struggled throughout much of 2020, the Florida Republican proposed cuts to education and health care programs to help balance the state’s budget. As it turns out, those cuts weren’t necessary — because Democrats at the federal level passed the American Relief Plan that bolstered state finances.

In fact, yesterday, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed his state’s budget, there were plenty of smiles, with the governor announcing $1,000 bonuses for teachers, principals, and first responders. “We’re proud that we got the bonuses through,” the Republican boasted.

There was a detail, however, that DeSantis didn’t mention. Politico reported:

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a $100 billion state budget bolstered by nearly $9 billion in expected federal stimulus funds, putting the Republican governor in the awkward political position of building his budget on a wave of cash from President Joe Biden, whom he may run against in 2024…. The newly signed budget, the biggest in state history … was made much easier to cobble together because of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package.

To be sure, plenty of governors from both parties have used Democratic COVID relief funds for all kinds of local priorities in recent months. What’s relevant in this instance, however, is that DeSantis railed against the American Rescue Plan as “Washington at its worst” — shortly before bragging about the great stuff he’s doing with funds his state received through the law he opposed.

It’s not quite the same thing as congressional Republicans voting against the bill, and then taking credit for its investments, but it’s awfully close.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who’s running against the incumbent governor next year, wasted little time noting the tension between DeSantis’ condemnation of the Democratic law and the eagerness with which the Florida Republican celebrated the law’s resources.

“While Governor DeSantis will try to claim credit today, the truth is that he opposed the American Rescue Plan,” Crist said. “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.”

Last week, President Biden said, “Even my Republican friends in Congress, not a single one of them voted for the Rescue Plan. I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have here a list of how, back in their districts, they’re bragging about the Rescue Plan…. I mean, some people have no shame.”

Evidently, the problem isn’t limited to Capitol Hill.

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