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ICYMI: Congress should not bail out fiscally irresponsible states with COVID-19 relief

May 15, 2020 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity-Florida State Director Skylar Zander | Miami Herald

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tragedy for our nation, but some states are now trying to use this crisis to force taxpayers to pay for years of irresponsible spending.

The death and destruction from this pandemic has disrupted our lives and devastated businesses big and small, causing layoffs and threatening millions of families’ livelihoods. Yet, lawmakers should be wary of another bailout that will benefit special interests over those who are hurting.

Although the majority of recipients are genuinely in need, some state-level officials are trying to take advantage of the assistance to bail them out of decades of fiscal mismanagement. Our state’s congressional delegation should reject these claims. Otherwise, Floridians will be left with the tab for other states’ irresponsibility.

On April 14, Illinois’ Senate Democratic Caucus requested $40 billion from the federal government, on top of the billions that state has already received. The request makes clear that $10 billion of these funds would go toward propping up the state’s floundering pension system for its government employees.

Even before the COVID pandemic, Illinois’ pension program was straining the state’s finances, eating up 25 percent of the state’s annual general revenue expenditures. This was the result of multiple administrations in Springfield avoiding hard choices necessary to foster a responsible retirement system.

If Congress grants the Prairie State and New York a bailout, others might be tempted to ask for one as well.

As the adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone else will have to pay for years of fiscal negligence by those states. That includes Floridians who have elected, and held accountable, politicians who have managed our state’s finances well.

We’ve made hard choices about Florida’s finances. We should not be punished for the mismanagement of others.

Click here to read the full op-ed.