Republican Florida leaders slam infrastructure plan

Reaction to $1.3 trillion plan falls along party lines

Sen. Rick Scott was in Miami on Tuesday and criticized the bill, as has Gov. Ron DeSantis. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Fried spoke in support of it.

MIAMI – Depending on party affiliation, South Florida lawmakers are either celebrating or criticizing the passage of the $1.3 Trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Plan.

Sen. Rick Scott, in Miami to mark Versailles Restaurant’s 50th anniversary, served up scathing criticism of the bill Tuesday.

“The first thing they said, it was paid for. A complete lie all the way through,” Scott said. “It was never paid for.”

No South Florida Republican was among the 13 who joined a majority of Democrats to pass the unprecedented national investment plan in Congress late last week. Florida’s estimated portion is outlined in a three-page White House published last August in advance of the Senate’s vote.

It includes: $13.1B for roads, $245M to replace aging bridges, $2.6B for public transportation. $198M to grow the network of electric vehicle charging stations, $100M on broadband, $1.6B on clean water, and $1.2B for airports.

“We should not be borrowing more money; we should live within our means, and we should spend the money where we get a return,” said Scott, who questioned why tax dollars should fund what private industry can build.

According to the plan, local infrastructure projects could draw down more federal money by partnering with private entities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, now an official candidate for re-election, questioned the funding formula for the states during a press conference in Central Florida.

“Is Florida being treated well in this? Or are they basically funneling money to a bunch of very very high tax and dysfunctional states?” DeSantis asked.

Federal funding calculations are based on state census data.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor Nikki Fried called the plan exciting for Florida, though admitted much of the detail is yet to be planned.

“The way it’ll work is, projects can be submitted to the federal plan, and score in criteria,” Fried said. “So, it’s depending on the projects and depending how aggressive local governments are in working with and getting that money down. So it’s still in the works of how this is going to be effectuated and bring the money down.”

The bill is awaiting President Biden’s signature.

To see the White House breakdown of Florida’s portion of the plan, click here.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."