Friday, April 24, 2009

Federal Stimulus Dollars

From the Senate Dems:

Dear Governor Crist:

It is with rising alarm that myself and the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus are following the news chronicles of the apparent paralysis gripping the head of your Education Department. We are stunned that with less than a week to go in the 2009 Legislative Session, Commissioner Eric Smith has yet to submit the necessary paperwork to draw down federal stimulus dollars Florida desperately needs and on which our final budget depends.

Governor, Commissioner Smith may liken the application process to reportedly “buying a car,” but I can assure you vehicle shopping is not our top priority. With $2 billion in federal education dollars hanging in the balance, we are quickly running out of time.

As you will recall, just last month we highlighted the need to get the state’s act together in order to jump start the application process for the federal stimulus funds for Florida. Your office was delinquent not only in creating the mandatory tracking website, but your own Department of Transportation had not moved past the “draft” stage in project recommendations.

We were heartened to see a quick response once we outlined these concerns to the Senate leadership and the press, but fear the lethargy we spotted then has reared its head once again.

This letter is to urge you, as head of this state and these agencies, including the Department of Education, to remind Commissioner Smith that the contract details with which he should be concerned are not on a new car purchase, but the one he presides over with the children in Florida and the duty to maintain their education.

We look forward to your leadership in expediting the necessary paperwork, with or without the waiver supplemental details, so that we may conclude the people’s business without additional and unnecessary delay.

The U.S. Department of Education has publicly assured Florida that postponing our application pending the receipt of some obscure supplemental details is totally unnecessary.

We could not agree more.


Senator Al Lawson
Senate Democratic Leader

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