Fried urges state to speed up distribution of federal coronavirus aid
Tallahassee, Florida — Florida still has billions of dollars left unspent in federal pandemic relief.
On Wednesday, critics attacked the conservative for his slowness and asked him, What is the disruption?
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also eyeing the governor’s office in 2022, criticized Governor Ron DeSantis during a virtual roundtable, saying his administration hasn’t done enough to spend the stacked money.
“This money is now available,” said Fred. “At every turn, Governor DeSantis is choosing to stand in the way of the help the federal government is trying to provide to Florida families.”
Florida has about $10 billion left from its allocation to the Education Stabilization Fund. Approximately $727 million remains on hand for housing assistance.
Federal officials said the state would also have received $820 million to feed schoolchildren via the Pandemic EBT program but failed to advance. It’s the only country that hasn’t, leaving hunger-relief advocates frustrated.
“Families were struggling before the pandemic, and they are still struggling today,” said Kim Johnson, CEO of Florida Impact to End Hunger. “We all know how this funding can definitely help our families.”
DeSantis has long promoted fiscal responsibility when it comes to pandemic spending. His communications team defended his actions in a statement.
Press Secretary Christina Buchou said the P-EBT program was created to help feed children while schools are closed.
“While we continue to support families and students with in-person education, Florida public schools have resumed normal operations and schools are open in every county in our state,” Buchou said. “Therefore, students receive high-quality nutrition directly from our schools.”
Buchou also called Fried’s accusations “baseless” and said Florida is one of the biggest spenders of COVID-19 relief money on education.
Federal data supports this statement.
The latest information shows that 21 percent of the state’s total education resources, over $13 billion, have disappeared. Florida is ninth in the United States, and it spends more of its money than New York or California.
The state was not doing well with federal rent assistance.
Our Florida distribution program has distributed only 16 percent of the approximately $870 million to date. That’s up from 2 percent in July, but larger states, such as Texas, have already distributed 65 percent.
“The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) continues to work to raise awareness of the relief available to Florida renters who are late in paying rent and utilities while helping them get back on the path to economic self-sufficiency through our Florida program,” said DCF Communications Director Mallory McManus in the months Recently, DCF has worked to streamline the application process while adapting to changing guidance from the US Treasury to ensure that families who need this assistance can obtain it as quickly as possible.”
Fried urged Florida residents to call and write the governor to expedite the rollout. Time will tell if that happens.