Florida will not buy food for poor women and young children, if federal dollars run out soon to pay for them.
That is the order from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who told his agency directors on Thursday that no state funds shall be used to keep critical social programs running during the federal shutdown.
Federal dollars that support free school lunch programs for low-income students will start to run out at the end of next week, if Congress cannot agree on a spending bill to fund the federal government.
Federal funds that pay for infant formula and healthy foods for pregnant women through Women Infants and Children (WIC) program will run out Nov. 1.[jump]
On Thursday, Scott’s chief of staff sent a letter to state agencies that use federal dollars to serve critical needs. Adam Hollingsworth wrote that there should be no effort to “temporarily support unavailable federal funds through the use of state funds," according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Other entitlement programs at immediate risk include Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Overall, 35 percent of the state’s $74 billion budget comes from federal funds, according to CBS News.
More this morning
The buck doesn’t stop in Florida: Gov. Rick Scott, with strong backing from the Tea Party, continues to lash out at the Obama Administration for the budget impasse in Washington.
Scott, who is running for re-election, has taken a high-profile stance against President Obama for his role in the government shutdown and has emerged as one of the more vocal U.S. governors in his criticisms.
Scott also has suggested that he is doing a better job running the state of Florida than the president is in leading the nation. "The buck stops with the president," Scott said in a statement posted to the governor’s website. "The president needs to call everyone to the table to get a deal done. That’s what we do in Florida."
In addition to refusing state funds for social programs, Scott is taking a hard fiscal line on recreation and tourism. Scott announced Thursday he will not use state money to re-open Everglades National Park despite a plea from fishing guides, kayak operators and other small business owners who’ve been shut out of the refuge since the federal shutdown started Oct. 1.
Not-so-rapid transit planning: The greater Tampa area is one of only two major metro regions in the U.S. that lacks rapid transit service. It is hurting the regional economy.
That was the message delivered to 175 planners, politicians and business leaders attending a transportation summit in Tampa on Thursday.
U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Winter Park, told attendees that the Tampa Bay area and Northern Kentucky-Cincinnati are the only two U.S. regions without rapid transit.
There also was an update on a private endeavor called All Aboard Florida to provide passenger train service between Miami and Orlando. There was no discussion about extending the line to Tampa.
The service will be Florida's first private intercity passenger line and extend for 230 miles, from downtown Miami to the Orlando airport. Construction will cost $1.5 billion, with service expected to start in 2015.
In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion from the federal government to build a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa.
Tampa Bay leaders attending Thursday’s summit were urged to consider private-public partnerships as rapid transit plans are developed in southwest Florida. In 2014, Pinellas County voters are expected to decide on a 24-mile light rail transit route and other improvements through a penny sales tax.