Gov. Scott Falsely Claims Florida "Never" Gets Back Its Federal Tax Money

September 14, 2011 1:23 pm ET — Kate Conway

One way conservatives attack federal taxation is to analyze the discrepancy between how much federal tax money their state pays and how much federal money it gets back, and then rant about 'subsidizing' other states. To hear Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) tell it, you'd think Florida is one of the states doggedly working for years to support those freeloading other Americans.

Asked on MSNBC this morning what he thought about the American Jobs Act, Scott suggested he might reject any funding authorized by the bill — funding that would help his state get back to work — because he doesn't want it with any conditions attached. "You know," Scott explained, "this is our money. We sent it up there. And Florida has never gotten back what we send up."

SCOTT: Well, the devil's in the details, so we have to see what actually happens. What my concern is always that what strings are they going to be attached to any money they send back. Because, you know, this is our money. We sent it up there. And Florida has never gotten back what we send up.


Does Scott really think that the federal government's sole function is to count states' money and then return it to them — and not to allocate that money for the general welfare of the nation?

Moreover, Scott's claim that his state always loses money to the federal government is false. For 2005 — the most recent comparison of federal taxation to federal spending by state available — Scott's technically right; Florida got back 97 cents for every tax dollar it sent out. But guess what: For 22 out of the 25 years for which the Tax Foundation has data, Florida has gotten back more in federal spending than it paid to Washington in federal taxes. In those three years when it got back less (2002, 2004, and 2005), it got back 99 percent, 96 percent, and 97 percent, respectively. So Scott's claim is more than a little disingenuous — it's flat-out dishonest.

Meanwhile, Scott hasn't been making any efforts to recoup that federal money; he's been rejecting federal funding left and right. Early in his governorship, he turned down federal investment in a high-speed rail project. And although recently he's decided to support a solitary health care grant, he's blown off millions of dollars in other grants made available through the Affordable Care Act.