Gov. Charlie Crist is under fire for not spending enough federal stimulus money on highway construction.
In a letter to Crist last week, a congressman in charge of the U.S. House transportation committee said Florida was dead last in spending its share of the money — about 2 percent of $1.3 billion.
On Monday, Crist's Democratic opponent in the 2010 race for U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, criticized him. "It was easy for the governor to stand on stage in Fort Myers with President Obama in February in support of the stimulus, but now the work begins and Florida is late in rolling up its sleeves to take advantage of these limited funds," a Meek statement said.
Later Monday, two Crist officials asserted in a letter to U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., that he was relying on data more than a month old.
"With all due respect, we firmly believe that that analysis and finding is outdated and does a disservice to the tireless efforts of the Crist Administration and the employees of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), our partners at the city, county, and metropolitan planning organizations …" reads the three-page letter signed by Don Winstead, Crist's stimulus czar, and Stephanie Kopelousos, FDOT secretary.
The letter added that Florida has decided against using stimulus money to supplant existing projects, and has more urban areas with greater control over funding decisions.