Scott rips feds for not giving Fla Race to the Top dollarsby John Kennedy | December 16th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott ripped the Obama administration Friday for rejecting Florida’s application for Race to the Top education dollars, deriding the decision as stemming from the state’s refusal to accept the money “with strings attached.”
Nine states were authorized by federal officials to share $500 million in grant money aimed at accelerating improvements in early childhood programs. California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington state will get the dollars to make strides in pre-kindergarten education.
Scott said he suspected Florida was turned down because the state did not commit to continuing programs after federal dollars expired — a move he said was aimed at avoiding making state taxpayers pick up the tab for new government services.
”When Florida’s application was submitted for the grant in October, we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached, additional state spending obligations, or requirements that created new burdensome regulations on private providers,” Scott said.
” We stuck to our principles, and unfortunately our insistence against irresponsibly using one-time dollars for recurring government programs did not win the favor of the administration in Washington,” he added.
Race to the Top, the centerpiece of Obama’s education policies, has proved a thorny issue for Republicans. In the GOP presidential field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a staunch opponent, while Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, is a fan.
The funding approach also supports many of the early-learning measures promoted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and state legislative leaders.
Still, Scott defied tea party activists in October when he submitted the state’s application. But he was lured by the prospect of winning as much as $100 million in federal cash for the state — in a year when he wants to pump-up Florida K-12 spending by $1 billion.
Scott insisted, though, that he wouldn’t go along with federal officials dictating terms for how the state spent the money.
Florida won a $700 million federal grant under the program last year, in its second attempt at landing the cash. But Scott has pushed back millions of dollars in aid tied to Obama’s health care overhaul. The state’s Tea Party Network, also openly demanded in the fall that he steer clear of the Race to the Top effort.
But for all the line-in-the-sand drawing, Scott in September agreed to some conditions in advance of the application.
At Scott’s urging, the Legislative Budget Commission accepted a $3.4 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act to provide home visiting services to at-risk families. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was among those urging against the move, saying the program’s mission was murky, and he feared it could result in the state facing additional costs.
Tags: Race to the Top