JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Florida (February 5, 2009) – Recent polls show only 37% of the American people support the federal bailout bill. Governor Charlie Crist (R-Fl) says he is part of that minority. Here’s the email he sent me.
This week I joined 18 fellow governors from around the country in writing a letter to President Barack Obama expressing our support for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which passed last week in the U.S. House and is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate. I also directed administration and agency leaders to begin reviewing the best use of federal stimulus dollars anticipated to be sent to Florida as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
As the U.S. Senate considers this stimulus package, I continue to work with my colleagues and members of our Congressional delegation to improve the bill while ensuring Florida receives our fair share. We do not yet know how much of this stimulus package will be allocated for Florida, but we know Congress and President Obama expect states to use the money quickly in ways that jumpstart our economy. The Federal Stimulus Working Group I convened this week will spend the weeks to come making sure we quickly and responsibly implement these federal dollars to meet the Sunshine State’s education, transportation and health care funding needs.
I am confident that as both parties come together and finalize a package, we will see federal dollars that will create jobs in Florida, improve our education system, protect the most vulnerable among us, incentivize potential homebuyers, and provide tax relief to hardworking Floridians.
I will lead the Federal Stimulus Working Group, which includes Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, along with my chief of Staff, budget director and policy director. The group also includes leaders from major state agencies, departments and offices – including the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Education. There is no doubt these are challenging economic times for Floridians and for the state agencies that serve them. But by beginning now to look at where and how these federal dollars can be best used, we will be ready to deliver the necessary resources for our classrooms, for transportation projects, and for those who depend on Medicaid.
We are fortunate to have already laid the groundwork for efficient use of the federal stimulus money, through the Accelerate Florida initiative I launched in August. State agencies are working to remove unnecessary red tape in permitting and contracting, allowing us to speed up approved construction and capital outlay projects that will generate jobs and improve our schools, roads and waterways. In the first two months alone, the Florida Department of Transportation accelerated 170 transportation projects worth $1.4 billion. This kind of efficiency leaves Florida well-positioned to use the federal stimulus dollars quickly and productively, as Congress and President Obama intend.
Tuesday afternoon, I discussed Florida’s economy and my support for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. To see my interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/.
Thank you, and God Bless.