Five million dollar DeSantis veto triggers cancellation of $346 million in federal funding

by | Jun 25, 2023

  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s line-item veto of two federal block grants worth $29 million has sparked controversy and triggered the cancellation of an additional $346 million in federal funding block grants.
  • The vetoes forced Florida’s withdrawal from a program that would have provided money to Florida consumers for rebates on energy efficient household appliances.
  • DeSantis’s decision is seen as a political move to refuse federal money from the Biden Administration, potentially boosting his presidential campaign.
  • But the move also draws criticism because the funds required no additional commitments from the Florida budget, essentially returning federal tax dollars to the state, but those dollars will now be distributed to people in other states.

Tongues are wagging among Tallahassee policy wonks and political operatives following Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s June 15th line-item veto of a pair of relatively small federal block grants, totalling a mere $29 million. That’s because the seemingly innocuous vetoes set into motion the state’s withdrawal from a program that would have delivered two follow-on federal grants scheduled to return an additional $346 million directly into the pockets of Florida citizens through a rebate program.

Politically, the move sets DeSantis up to declare that he’s refusing to accept any more federal money from the Biden Administration. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for more information about DeSantis’s reasoning for the vetoes, so it’s not clear if the governor was aware of the cascading impact of his decision. But political insiders view it as a calculated strategy meant to bolster his presidential campaign and take away a Biden Administration talking point highlighting DeSantis’s previous acceptance of federal dollars for other programs.

DeSantis’s vetoes of line items 1463A and 1463B, both federal block grants that required no expenditures from the state’s own budget, went largely unnoticed in the days immediately after the budget signing ceremony.

Line item 1463A, a $24 million grant, would have been channeled to Florida under the title “Grants And Aids To Local Governments And Non-state Entities.” The money relied solely on funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act Funding and would have cost Florida nothing. The intended use for the funds was to upgrade rural wastewater motors and improve the efficiency pumping infrastructure in smaller counties across the state.

An even bigger impact, though, rests in DeSantis’ veto of line item 1463B, a seemingly innocuous $5 million grant through the Federal Inflation Reduction Act, intended to set up required planning and accountability infrastructure for a larger tranche of federal cash aimed at improving energy efficiency across all 50 states. To qualify for the larger block of funds, states were expected to set up the accountability programs first. But the veto set off a chain reaction, killing off Florida’s efforts to meet the federal requirements, which in turn effectively disqualified Florida from receiving two larger federal block grants, each worth $173 million, or $346 million in all.

This isn’t the first time a Florida governor has turned down federal funding. In 2011, Governor Rick Scott turned down $2 billion in infrastructure funding from the Obama Administration, but those funds required Florida to commit to a substantial sum of additional state money to pay the difference in the cost for a high-speed rail network, which Scott said (and subsequent news reports later confirmed) would cost billions more than those federal funds provided.

In this instance, though, the federal funds had no state encumbrances, and were set to be channeled by the little-known Florida Department of Energy overseen by Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson. Inquiries made by The Capitolist confirmed that the Energy Department had contingency plans in place for the funds to be channeled into consumer-oriented programs including homeowner rebates for investments in smart-home thermostats and energy efficient appliances, ultimately returning the money directly into the pockets of Florida taxpayers to spend as they saw fit.

But now, with the vetoes, The Capitolist has obtained a trio of draft letters (below) to be sent to the Biden Administration from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) that confirm the state’s forfeiture of the funding and withdrawal from the block grant programs. The unsigned letters indicate DeSantis’s vetoes as the reason for the state’s formal withdrawal from the federal program.

It is unclear how many other states, if any, have refused their own share of the federal dollars, so it’s possible that Florida stands alone in the decision. All 50 states received block grant allocations under the same program and had broad authority to develop programs to spend the dollars on energy efficiency improvements. As a result of the vetoes, federal dollars paid by Floridians will likely be distributed to other states, potentially opening up DeSantis to criticism that his refusal of the funding not only hurts Floridians, but allows more progressive governors to use Florida’s money to promote more progressive energy initiatives.

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  1. What an Orifice

    What a self serving dumb-a##

    • Anonymous

      Might I remind you that both I75 and I95 run north? I invite you to use either one.

      • Anonymous

        DeSantis has pulled some really stupid stunts but this should bury his political aspirations. He’s saving money? No, he is just denying Floridians share of budgeted federal funds that will now go to other states. Not the first time he’s hurt our wallets. Wake up voters. DeSantis is a moron

      • Anonymous

        The govenor has lost his mind . What on earth is next?

      • Anonymous


        You mean I-75 and I-95 as in the FEDERAL interstate highway system?

      • Fel

        You should use it

      • Anonymous

        Ja Wohl! Anything but blind obedience for the fuhrer is VERBOTTEN.

      • Anonymous

        As apposed to what? Voicing their opinion?

    • Anonymous

      And why do his followers think he such a great candidate!
      We are the only people not receiving government funding in Florida and the cost of expenses is vastly high! He is a dushbag!!

      • Tony B Donaldson

        I think you suckers of the federal dollar do not realize the strings attached to that money. He’s right in doing what he did. Some are just too stupid to realize it.

      • Phoenix Hinson

        His ego sucked him all up when he won the election by 19% for governor. He let himself believe he was a big man but he’s just a little little boy. Eagles have a way of knocking you down.

    • John Hoover

      Every day I despise this man more. He is petty, vindictive and incapable of reflecting on the long term consequences of his actions. He is totally transactional and throughly corrupt.

  2. Pete

    We all know there is no free lunch and the federal government does not give any money without some strings being attached. There may not be and funds attached but there is definitely some restriction on our liberty involved. If it has to do with “environment” my gas stove may be at risk or some other unacceptable request.

    • Brian Burgess

      The money is still going to get spent.

      It’s OUR money.

      Better Florida gets it than California or New York.

    • Keel

      How much is spite against Wilton for being in Trump’s corner?

    • Anonymous

      Except, of course, no it’s not. Stop being willfully ignorant

    • Danzel

      Or the future of the planet?

    • MSL

      We would have received some of our personal tax money back from the government. There was no reference about “restricting our freedoms” nor risking the loss of our gas stoves.” Why would you not want to receive the funds as described? Instead you speculate about some idea swirling in your mind.

    • Anonymous

      Lol. It’s taxpayer money for direct to consumer rebates on energy efficiency upgrades. Turning it down is harming florida residents. Stupid.

    • Anonymous

      This is nonsensical. There are no hidden strings involved. This was money Floridians were entitled to, and this petty and vindictive man said no at your expense.

    • Florida1971

      The funds that our Commissioner of Agriculture, Wilton Simpson, was going to oversee dispersement of, for household rebates on more efficient appliances, thus, reducing our electric bills, had not one single string attached. It was taxpayer federal funds being returned. That’s it. No strings. And, there were no strings attached to the Covid relief federal funds, either. Those funds were intended for things like upgrading HVAC systems to be more efficient at air cleaning in schools and other government buildings. The federal gov’t allowed states to use them however they pleased.
      Ours went into our state reserves to earn interest.

  3. Douglas N Hay

    And if that doesn’t work to get attention just fly a few more immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard at Florida taxpayer expense.

    • Anonymous

      So what do you think it would cost Florida tax payers to except, house, feed and provide medical care and schooling for ILLIGAL immigrants.

      • Dan Weathers

        Are you talking about the illegal immigrants in Florida that Republicans are trying to convince to stay here and work their farms, or the illegal immigrants in Texas that DeSantis is flying to other states without said immigrants ever being in Florida?

        • Anonymous

          Oh snap! You got me.

        • Anonymous

          Actually he is talking about the immigrants that were admitted legally to the United States that were then decieved into being taken to Martha’s Vinyard.

      • Danzel

        We don’t share a border with Mexico. Learn to spell illegal before complaining about them seeking asylum is not illegal.
        Are you gonna pick the fruit, vegetables, peanuts?

        • Linda Weese

          Do you think with all the illegals in this country sofar…that perhaps we have enough illegals to pick our crops? Perhaps there is also something you are not aware of. Duda Farms would fly in illegals every year to pick crops. They fed them, housed them..and when the season was over…flew them back home. I have no problem with illegals trying to make a better life for themselves ..however, make application and come to this country legally. Assimilate, learn our language, our culture and become a US citizen.

          • Fed Up With Racists

            “ Assimilate, learn our language, our culture….” What a wonderful idea. Maybe if the residents of this land had imposed this bigoted view on your ancestors we’d all be speaking Navajo.

      • MSL

        Loss of those illegals will cost farmers loss of their crops and we, Floridians, higher prices for our produce and other food products. Unless you have plans to help reap the crops…

  4. Anonymous

    The money may not have strings attached in that no matching state funding was required but
    the Feds required that states were expected to set up the accountability programs first.
    This requirement would have meant creating another state agency Paying more state employees, paying their healthcare and pensions. I believe our government has already grown too much. I applaud any refusal of a funding that expands the government.
    Government employment should never be included in the employment statistics.

    • Clowns of Conservatism

      What is wrong with having more employees in government? Government is not the evil you make it so. You want more ability for capitalism to exploit the people instead. Companies always side with what is best for everyone. It’s like cheap food. It’s not dominated by a few conglomerates that produce items high in fat and salts to addict those who purchase and eat it. They are always looking out for the consumer in that they all look at them as cash cows while they under pay their workers. I love to hear you when rampant capitalism takes over totally and you’ll be billed for the air you breath.

    • Brian Burgess

      Not true, actually. The agency already existed, as the story points out: it was earmarked for the Florida Department of Energy, which resides with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

      The initial $5 million allocation was to be used to ensure program accountability for the follow-on tranches of cash.

      As a fiscal conservative, I completely agree with the mindset that we (as a nation) don’t actually have this money to be spent, but even IF all the red states in American banded together to refuse federal dollars, then the money would just flow to liberal states which would spend us to oblivion anyway.

      In this case, it seems to me that, at least Florida was planning something responsible with the money: returning it to consumers.

      Another misunderstanding I want to correct is that the states that get these dollars don’t have to spend it on consumer rebates – that’s just what Florida planned to do. States like California are free to implement their own “energy efficiency” programs but they don’t necessarily have to spend those dollars on consumer rebates. They could just as easily go full-blown progressive and roll out a massive carbon cap-and-trade giveaway scheme to corporations or whatever else they want, under the guise of energy efficiency.

      • MSL

        Well, let’s focus on Florida’s opportunities. DeSantis vetoed them, right?

      • John Hoover

        Why are you lying about cap and trade? I am old enough to remember it it was the Republican sponsored and supported capitalist answer to just plain cutting emissions punitively.

    • Anonymous

      If you actually read the article you would have noticed that the federal government would be paying for that accountability program, but I’m guessing you have a Florida Education so reading isn’t your strong suit.

  5. FloridaFisher

    After recent travels, I am starting to see that Florida is crumbling compared to other states, Georgia in particular. DeSantis is denying Floridians the return if their tax dollars so he can run for President. What a tool!

    • Anonymous

      Did you know there are two interstates that go north out of Florida? Please take all your negative family and friends.

      • Deborah Coffey

        Exactly how much kool aid have you drunk? Vote (R) for Russia; Vote (D) for Democracy. Or, did you know that planes fly to Moscow?

  6. Anonymous

    Capitalism. You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
    Socialism. You have two cows and the government takes one and gives it to whom ever shows up looking for a hand out.
    We need to agree to disagree.

    • Anonymous

      Capitalism. Where you can’t afford the 2 cows because you had to rent the grass, barn, feed, farmer, fence, tractor, etc. So you sell your 2 cows to pay all the rent. Now you have debt and no cows that you own. Just 2 cows you pay to take care of.

      Socialism. Where everyone has 2 cows.

  7. Anonymous

    And everyone has to pay for you to feed them and care for them and you will only ever have 2 cows.

  8. Robert Leviton

    Let’s all remember the first rule of Government, The Government doesn’t have any of it’s own money. It only has what it collects in taxes and fees it takes from it’s citizens. Turning down money from the Federal Government is not a bad thing because they probably shouldn’t be handing out money that is not there’s in the first place.

  9. Anonymous

    He is a dush bag

  10. BeReady4

    Governor D is an arrogant SOB. He taking away money for the state. This is not his dystopia. He lies and he is letting Floridians suffer because he thinks he is a dictator. How do we seat here and let him take what people need. You can’t believe nothing he says. I have never seen a man so evil and I don’t care who doesn’t like.

  11. Anonymous

    So we have the narcissist selling nuclear secrets to foreign countries for cash or this loser bringing back actual Nazis by pretending guys wearing dresses are danger to kids when it’s mostly family and clergy who abuse kids. None of the proposals he’s put forward actually help anybody. Who the hell would imagine we have to fight Nazis on US soil? He truly brings the out the worst in people and ignores anything that actually matters.

  12. Anonymous

    This DeSantis is bent on destroying the citizens of Florida with one stupid, hurtful decision after another.

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  14. Artwork2

    The Florida Governor has the largest surplus in history ($22 Billion) and has people migrating to this state because of his economic policies and defense of freedom. But the haters don’t have a problem with a president who is the most corrupt politician ever elected, who is driving the country into the ground with the highest inflation in 40 years. I’ll stick with DeSantis, thank you. Maybe they can send the $349 million to California since they clearly don’t know how to manage their state/budget.

    • Ron Desantis

      LOL I suggest you get your news from someplace other than newsmax. the florida surplus is from the covid relief they are just sitting on and the republican congress voted to CLAW BACK.

  15. ????????

    The way the Federal Budget works is a fixed traunch of money is approved (“traunch” implies it is part of an intended series of funding measures), and it is divided among those who apply for it. If Floridians were eligible for the funds, it would NOT have increased the size of the traunch, it would have made a portion of it available to qualified applicants in Florida. Can’t really speak to the conditional provisions of this Federal funding. Does anyone know if there were onerous conditions attached to the funding?

  16. Scott F Dixon

    We did not need it as I have worked with the State of Florida for decades in it’s Infrastructure as DeSantis just gave us our largest Surplus in Florida’s history! Our State of Florida has led the way as we did not have to shutdown everything like other states has had to do during the Covid pandemic. Pretty incredible having our largest budget Surplus during a pandemic.

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  18. Fedup

    Even Trump says the economy does better when Democrats are in charge. I do not understand why people think otherwise. Look it up! The debt goes up when Republicans are in charge and down when Democrats are. DeSantis is a petty self serving man who like all other Republicans do not care about people. They prey on ignorance and depend on it. They are like illusionist while they tell you what you want to hear they are working in the background to stop social security, Medicare, Regulations that are needed for safety. Why because they are all bought and paid for by corporations who want to charge the most and pay the least they can. Who cares if workers will get cancer if they work with certain products, they don’t. The only reason to be a Republican is if you’re rich and heartless or you’re believing all the lies. They want Americans to stay stupid so they can have voters. If people were truly informed there would be only one party.

  19. Fedup

    One more thing for the Woke Politics I’d like to point out and direct to Liberty Mom’s. Did you ever go to school with a preachers kid or a policeman’s kid? They were the worst kids because when you constantly tell kids something is bad or wrong it makes it forbidden. To a lot of people this is seen as a challenge so I wonder how many of these mom’s are fighting against their own kids future? Preachers daughters were pretty wild and the policeman sons were getting into a lot of criminal stuff. So, makes me wonder what these kids will grow up to be? Just a thought

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