DeSantis’ Veto of Federal Funds Costs Floridians $354 Million

Image via screengrab

By Giselle Balido

August 21, 2023

The Republican governor’s veto represents a loss for energy saving programs that would have directly benefited Florida taxpayers struggling with high electricity bills.

Mirta Rodriguez moved to Florida for its sunny year-round climate.

The Broward County resident is a big fan of the beaches and loves the tranquil, leafy neighborhood where she resides with her college-age daughter. But the skyrocketing cost of living in the Sunshine State has her wondering if she should’ve ever moved here.

“Food prices, property premiums… It’s incredible how everything has gone up,” she told Floricua.

In fact, she says her electricity bill has nearly doubled, forcing her to further stretch an already stretched budget.

“This is kind of the last straw, because God knows you can’t live without air conditioning in this place,” she told Floricua. 

Rodriguez’s story is a common one, as Floridians across the state have dealt with soaring energy costs over the past few years. 

Rather than take steps to lower costs or provide assistance to residents, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis used his veto power last month to reject federal funds aimed at lowering energy costs, a decision that will ultimately cost Florida taxpayers $354 million. 

The governor’s final veto list for 2023 shows that DeSantis chose to nix line item 1463B, a $5 million grant rom President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) aimed at boosting energy efficiency across the nation.

DeSantis’ veto set in motion the state’s withdrawal from a program that could have resulted in $174 million in consumer rebates for energy-efficiency improvements, $173 million for rebates to purchase energy-efficient home appliances, and $7 million for a training program for electrical contractors.

RELATED: ‘Why Did It Become So Expensive?’: Florida’s High Costs Are Pushing Residents to the Brink

This represents a loss of $354 million in energy saving programs that would have directly benefited Florida taxpayers by helping provide families with energy-efficiency improvements like smart-home thermostats and rebates to purchase energy-efficient home appliances. 

The governor’s office did not provide an explanation for the vetoes, but some political insiders see it as DeSantis’ way of signaling his rejection of federal funding from the Biden Administration.

“He doesn’t want to give Democrats a political win,” Democratic Florida Sen. Victor Torres told Floricua. 

Feeling the Heat

If this is true, DeSantis’ political “win” is a pyrrhic victory that comes at a great cost for Floridians. 

This problem, Florida Democratic US Rep. Kathy Castor says, could have been averted. In a letter to DeSantis at the end of July, Castor wrote:

“Floridians already are reeling from exorbitant electric bills and the most expensive property insurance rates in the country. Now, Florida families and small businesses are being pickpocketed because you’ve elevated your political interests over the people’s interest. It’s wrong, and I urge you to reverse course now.”

The DeSantis administration has not issued a response to Castor’s letter. 

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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