U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has renewed his efforts to find out how the states used funds from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress and the White House agreed to at the end of March.
At the end of last week, Scott and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., sent letters to every governor in the nation, asking how they spent the $150 million that state governments received from the CARES Act. Scott, Johnson and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sent out a similar letter back in June and only 10 states responded.
“Today, I’m reaching out to every governor again so they can tell us exactly how they’ve used the $150 billion in taxpayer money already given them to respond to the coronavirus,” Scott said on Friday. “Under no circumstance should state and local governments receive additional taxpayer dollars without telling us how they’ve spent this money, and under no circumstance should American taxpayers be responsible for the excesses of wasteful states like New York and California. We’re seeing data now that clearly shows state and local governments’ projected revenue shortfalls from the coronavirus didn’t happen. We also know that the states that have opened their economies and focused on getting Americans back to work are showing promising unemployment numbers compared to liberal states like California and New York, which continue to impose restrictions on their economies.”
“In June, we wrote a letter to the governors of all 50 states and territories about the use of these funds, and we thank the handful of governors who took the time to respond to the inquiry. Americans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what states are doing to ensure it gets directly to those in need without any fraud, waste or abuse,” the senators wrote. “An economic recovery is already well underway, and new reports now show that state and local governments’ projected revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus have not come to fruition. According to the Wall Street Journal, revenue collections in many states exceeded their initial projections. For example, California recently reported that tax revenue for this fiscal year is running $9.9 billion (18.6 percent) above projections. Personal income tax revenue in October was $1 billion (15.6 percent) higher than in the previous October, and sales taxes were up 9.2 percent. For the last four months, overall revenue has exceeded spring forecasts and even 2019 collections. In New York, overall tax revenue was up 4.3 percent in September compared to September 2019. The article concludes that, ‘most states will survive the pandemic fine without more federal aid.’”
In the letter, the senators asked a series of questions to the governors.
“How much federal coronavirus response funds has your state spent? What is the balance of federal coronavirus response funding you have left?” Scott and Johnson asked. “What are your revenue projections today, compared to this spring? What factors have driven these changes, if any? What steps has your state taken to reduce any projected budget deficits? What additional resources does your state need from the federal government to combat the pandemic and safely reopen the economy? How do you plan to keep your state on a fiscally responsible path if additional federal aid is targeted to coronavirus response?”
Scott and Johnson asked for a response by December 18.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.