Rick Scott Wants Answers on How States Are Spending CARES Act Funds

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act at the end of March, sending more than $150 billion in economic relief to state and local governments to help them cover the costs caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wants a better handle on just where that money is going.

The entire CARES Act package came to more than $2 trillion, including the stimulus payments sent to taxpayers. This week, Scott called on the states to report back to the federal government on what they got.

“State and local governments across our nation have received more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money to address the coronavirus pandemic. The public deserves information on exactly how this money is being allocated, which is why my colleagues and I requested details from each U.S. governor. I thank those states that have been forthcoming with this information, but am very disappointed in the lack of response and transparency from the majority of states. The more information we have, the better off we are, especially in a crisis. I’m calling on every governor to work with us to protect taxpayer dollars, and respond as quickly as possible,” Scott said.

Scott paired up with U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., in sending a letter to each of the governors asking them a multitude of questions including what percentage of the funds have they already used and for details on how the money they distributed to each of its counties and cities was spent. Scott has focused on states running deficits, wanting to ensure that federal tax dollars would not be used to bail these states out after poor decision making during the legislative process.

The Florida Republican is also asking governors if they have used the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility. This is a series of bond funding mechanisms that allow states to borrow money in the short term as they manage lulls in cash flow. The object is to try and ascertain which states are either spending too much money or borrowing too much money.

Scott and the other senators also about Medicaid expenditures, including whether or not those are rising and what states are doing to control Medicaid costs. Scott resisted adding more than 800,000 Floridians without health insurance to the Medicaid rolls while he was governor because he was concerned about the long term burden to state taxpayers.

So far, the senator’s letters have garnered little in the way of responses. Scott’s press office told Florida Daily that, so far, less than 10 states have responded with the information he and the other senators have requested.

 

Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com.

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