Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist grateful for stimulus cash, but says more is not needed

TALLAHASSEE — Saying 26,000 teachers' jobs have been saved, Gov. Charlie Crist touted the federal stimulus package Wednesday but said he won't support another multibillion-dollar spending plan from Congress.

Crist bucked fellow Republican leaders in Congress this year by embracing both President Barack Obama and the stimulus package. Crist then held numerous meetings with state agency chiefs to pressure the Legislature to budget the money.

The state already has committed to spending more than half of the cash. But more money is available than originally anticipated, said Crist's stimulus czar, Don Winstead.

Using new calculations that include federal stimulus money sent directly to local governments rather than to the state, he said Florida could receive a total of about $15.3 billion over three budget years. That's about $2 billion more than previously estimated.

"I don't anticipate the need for more. The numbers we've heard today are pretty significant," Crist said, "and I hope Florida continues to do well. We all want unemployment to come down, and only time will tell about that."

Since taking office in 2007, Crist has consistently predicted that Florida's economy was poised for a "sonic boom." Instead, it headed toward bust.

Record job losses and budget deficits plagued the state as Crist's plans to fix the economy by overhauling property taxes, homeowners insurance and health insurance failed to offer the needed boost. In signing the state budget in May, Crist said that no state workers would be laid off, yet up to 300 state workers are forecast to face unemployment under the new budget.

The stimulus package, too, hasn't worked as well as anticipated in Florida and the nation as the unemployment rate climbs higher than the administration had forecast.

Now a Senate candidate, Crist faces a Republican primary challenger in former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who has criticized the governor's advocacy of the Democratic spending plan.

"The stimulus package is working — it's stimulating our national debt," Rubio said. "The state should have done what every family in Florida is doing right now. It should have spent only the money it had."

But Crist said the money was a lifesaver. He said the job picture would be far worse in Florida were it not for the bailout money from the feds.

The state's education commissioner, Eric Smith, said the $2 billion pumped into the education system saved 26,000 teachers' jobs. Crist's labor department chief, Cynthia Lorenzo, said the state is using the extra federal money to boost unemployment benefits and to build a call center to handle the flood of calls from the jobless.

"It's pretty incredible that 26,000 teachers will continue to work for Florida's children because of these additional monies," Crist said. "And that's really the point. This is to help people."

Marc Caputo can be reached at

Crist grateful for stimulus cash, but says more is not needed 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no


    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  2. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre


    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  3. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  4. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of