After vigorously criticizing the American Rescue Plan, which he called “Washington at its worst,” the Republican governor is handing out those very same funds in time to boost his reelection campaign.
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis handed out $1,000 checks to individual firefighters and law-enforcement officers amid great applause and fanfare.
“These bonuses are a token of our appreciation for the work that they do and the sacrifices they make to keep Florida safe. I am happy to deliver the bonuses for a second year in a row!” said the governor at a press conference in Tallahassee.
But not so fast, say Florida Democrats!
DeSantis, who has previously called himself “DeSanta Claus” while doling out the cash, again failed to mention one very important fact: that the money he hands out comes from President Joe Biden and Democrats’ American Rescue Plan (ARP), which he vigorously opposed and called “Washington at its worst.” The Republican even accused the Biden administration of “wasting money like a drunken sailor!”
In other words: the bonuses —which this time will cost an estimated $113 million— are 100 percent paid for by the federal government. That’s because the federal ARP provided more than $8.8 billion to the state of Florida to help Americans recover from the pandemic and to fund other relief programs.
A Critical Omission
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, nearly 85,000 first responders throughout the state will be getting the checks.
In what some call a predictable “coincidence,” this year the checks are being handed out just a few weeks before the governor is up for reelection. A new reelection ad paid for by Republicans even mentions the $1,000 bonuses.
In response, Democrats, and even the national press, have called out DeSantis for this critical omission.
“If Ron DeSantis had [had] his way, police officers would not have gotten funding to protect their communities,” said Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesperson Ammar Moussa. “Gaslighting voters and taking credit for funding he pushed against is simply par for the course with Ron DeSantis.”
Likewise, Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo, who will face off against Republican María Elvira Salazar in November, told Floricua why she thinks DeSantis approved the gas tax break for October, and not months before: “I’ll tell you why, because it’s a month before an election. And how are we going to cover for the tax that we would usually collect in October? We are covering with federal funds that the Biden administration sent to Florida.”
Even Rolling Stone magazine chimed in. “DeSantis Brags About Florida Budget That Includes Billions in Federal Funds He Opposed,” called out one of the national publication’s headlines.
“That’s money that’s coming from the Biden administration,” Democrat Raquel Pacheco, who is running for the Florida state Senate, told Floricua. “So, I’m not going to let them get away with acting as if this is their money that they’re gifting us.”