Q&A – Why Isn’t Florida Receiving It’s Share Of “Infrastructure” Funds?
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Today’s entry: I’d like to address Governor DeSantis’s complaints regarding the amount of funding Florida is set to receive in the infrastructure bill. If it’s true that Florida is set to be underserved by the legislation, shouldn’t he be directing his ire at those in his own party here in Florida? After all there are more Congressional Republicans than Democrats in our state and it’s their job to advocate for their constituents.
Bottom Line: The dynamic you’ve described is valid, however the point of emphasis with where the governor’s ire is directed is the inverse of what you’ve suggested. I’ll explain that statement in a minute but first let’s dig into what we know about the legislation to see how big of a shaft Florida might be getting. The overall price tag of the legislation is approximately $1.2 trillion. That’s a result of reallocating about $600 billion of previously authorized spending by Congress with about $600 billion new dollars of spending. As for Florida’s expected share...it’s currently estimated to be $19.1 billion. The first tell that Florida is getting the short end of the infrastructure stick is the knowledge that New York, a state smaller than Florida, is set to receive around $7 billion more. In reality, Florida isn’t just getting the short end of the stick in this legislation...we’re getting hosed by it.
According to the 2020 Census, Florida’s population stands at 21.5 million. That compares to a national population of 331 million. This means Florida represents 6.5% of the US population, thus any equitable legislation from the federal government would allocate 6.5% of the funds to our state. When evaluating the estimated funds for Florida in the infrastructure legislation, we see Florida is set to receive only 1.6% of the proceeds. That’s a staggering shortfall for our state. Florida’s receiving less than a quarter of what’s justified and would be equitable if shenanigans weren’t involved. Governor DeSantis is right to be outraged by what’s happened here. But your question is why he hasn’t aimed his ire at Congressional Republicans within our state for not vying for more equitable distribution of funds. The point you’re making is a good one. The direction you’ve aimed the question is the wrong one.
While it’s true there are more elected Republicans in Congress representing Florida than Democrats, 18 Republicans (including both senators) compared to 10 Democrats currently, it’s Florida’s Democrats who failed to represent their constituents. First, Democrats retain complete control of Congress, they naturally have the easiest path forward in negotiations with party leadership over the details and distribution of funds. Republicans were largely left out of the process. Secondly, Florida’s Republicans all voted against the legislation on principal, thus they retained no influence in a reallocation of the funds within the legislation. It’s Florida’s ten Congressional Democrats that failed to wield influence for their constituents in exchange for their yes votes.
It’s no secret that Speaker Pelosi was counting votes down to the last moment. The reason she’d promised a vote on this legislation no later than September 27th but had to wait until November to get it passed... She didn’t have the votes. Had any of Florida’s Democrats threatened not to vote for it unless their constituents saw equal representation within the legislation, they’d have had enormous negotiating power. And I’m not just speculating on the likelihood of that being the case because Pelosi needed their votes. Why ultimately did the 13 Republicans who crossed the isle in the House vote for the legislation? They made specific requests/demands for their districts that Speaker Pelosi honored in exchange for their votes.
As I’ve previously covered, every Florida Democrat has voted 100% of the time with Joe Biden’s position. It’s evident they’ve been representing his interests and the party’s interests as opposed to yours. As an aside, the general Biden administration justification for states disproportionately receiving less than their fair share of resources from the legislation, or more as the case may be, is based upon need. As an example, Florida’s infrastructure grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers is “C”. That ranks above the national average of a “C-”. In other words, states such as ours that do better than average in managing infrastructure get punished at the literal expense of those who’ve not managed infrastructure well. But even that attempted justification doesn’t come close to explaining why we’re getting less than a quarter of what’s equitable for Florida. That boils down to the failure of Florida’s Democrat Congressional Delegation to represent their constituents.