May 29, 2020

Florida Leadership Split on Supporting ‘Flexibility’ in CARES Act Money [NBC 6]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Phil Prazan writes:

"The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic punched a $880 million hole in the state budget in April. More negative financial effects are expected throughout the summer. Congress sent several billion dollars to Florida by the Federal CARES Act, but it can’t use it to fill the hole in the budget -- as of now.

Statewide leaders are split on calling for more “flexibility” in what the money can be used for -- Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, on one side, and Sen. Rick Scott and Florida Speaker of the House Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, on the other. Florida Senior U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has not yet returned a request for comment.  


'Right now it’s a big question mark on whether we’ll have to return that money,' said Holly Bullard, from the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added]. Without more flexibility, the State of Florida could be in a financial mess similar to what it was in during the Great Recession.

'Five billion dollars is the budget for the state university system. It’s a huge amount of money, and for us to not be able to use for revenue backfill is very startling,' Bullard said."


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