FL Gets Billions More From Feds Than It Gives? ‘Mostly True’

May 27, 2015
Originally published on May 27, 2015 5:18 pm

The 2015 Florida legislative session came screeching to a halt three days early, when House and Senate lawmakers could not agree on health care funding.

The House wants no part of Medicaid expansion. The Senate has warmed up to the idea of a type of expansion that would steer federal dollars into private healthcare plans. They'll try to get this worked out during a special session that’s scheduled to begin Monday, June 1.

One of the arguments against Medicaid expansion is that Florida takes billions more from Washington, D.C.  than it gives - and that the money being offered to Florida isn't Florida's to take.

State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, recently tweeted an infographic that shows Florida sends $135 billion to the federal government - and Washington sends $150 billion back to Florida.

According to Josh Gillin with PolitiFact Florida, that claim is “Mostly True.”

“A lot of representatives have been sending this out, so we asked the Speaker of the House’s communications office where they got those numbers,” Gillin said. “They said that $135 billion came from gross tax collections by the IRS - minus average refunds - so it’s kind of a specific way to look at it. And then the $150 billion that the government sends to Florida, it came from a website called USASpending.gov, and that’s a website that tracks federal contracts and loans and grants and public assistance, just all sorts of things here.”

Florida gets a lot of money for Social Security and Medicare. There’s highway funds, education grants, billions of dollars in federal contracts to private businesses in that number.

“One expert even pointed out to us you need to keep in mind that the federal government is always running at a deficit these days, so you need to be very careful how you’re parsing this, and not just pull out one program like Medicaid and say that it’s wrong to take money for it, because the state of Florida gets a lot of money for other things,” Gillin said.

Experts told PolitiFact Florida that while the numbers the House is using are valid, if looked at a different way, they might not make the point stated in the infographic.

In another fact-check, PolitiFact Florida ruled that a claim from a Democratic political action committee that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush held $1 million “hostage” for abstinence-only education is “Mostly False.” 

Emily’s List said, "Jeb once held $1 million in family planning grants hostage until the programs receiving the money agreed not to discuss birth control at all."

There are a handful of news stories that say Bush in 2001 asked the Legislature to set aside $1 million for chastity programs out of the state’s almost $5.8 million for family planning. That's a bit different from threatening existing programs with a gag order. More importantly, there's no evidence Bush's proposal went into effect. The health department said no requirements for abstinence programs were passed by lawmakers.

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