DeSantis criticizes coronavirus stimulus bill over state funding

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a press conference at Brooksville vaccination site. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis objected Monday to the way a $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package would distribute money to states.

DeSantis said the package, approved by the U.S. House this weekend, would penalize states such as Florida that have lower unemployment rates than other states. The package includes $350 billion for states and the District of Columbia and would divvy up the money based on unemployment rates.

“Instead of using the share of the population, they are using the number of unemployed in a state, which means states like Florida that have lower unemployment are getting penalized,” DeSantis told reporters at the state Capitol. “States like New York and California, who have higher unemployment are benefiting, they’re getting a windfall.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to make changes to the overall package, a priority of President Joe Biden, before sending it back to the House.

DeSantis estimated the unemployment-rate formula for allocating money to states would lead to Florida receiving $1.2 billion less than it would receive if money was divided by population.

Florida had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate in December. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled to release a January unemployment rate on March 15.