With his bug repellent locked and loaded, Florida Governor Rick Scott has been traversing the state talking about how he combating the mosquito-spread Zika virus.While he’s called out President Obama and Congress for not working together to allocate and spend the needed federal dollars to fight the virus, Scott has been criticized by many, especially Democrats, for cutting state mosquito control funding.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) held a Zika town hall meeting in Broward County where he took the liberty of questioning Scott’s mosquito control spending cuts.
According to Politico, state funding for these mosquito control programs was been cut from $2.16 million to $1.29 million in 2011.
Scott also ignored pleas from fellow Republicans that year when he cut a special $500,000 appropriation for the Public Health Entomology Research and Education Lab in Panama City Beach, which had been founded in 1964.
Called PHEREC, the center was simply known as “the mosquito lab.” Already wounded by budget cuts, the lab effectively closed. Its pesticide research shut down. Scientists lost their jobs, causing the state to lose half of its mosquito researchers.Scott’s office is countering the narrative that he is not anti-bug because of the cut backs.
Scott’s Executive Office points out that Gov. Scott has ” allocated more than $26 million to combat Zika,” and has offered up the amount of state dollars spent on mosquito control since he first took office in 2010.
“Since taking office, Governor Scott has invested more than $13.2 million in funding for mosquito prevention and control, including a 20-year high investment of $2.8 million this year. Governor Scott has allocated more than $26 million to combat Zika and will continue to allocate more if necessary. It is inaccurate for some members of Congress, and others, to look at one or two budget decisions during a time of budget deficits when the state had to make allocations with the best return on investment – when they should focus on the overall increase in investments. We are hopeful that Congress and the president will work together to address this national issue.” – Jackie Schutz, Communications Director, Governor Rick Scott
FY 2011-12 $1,293,368
FY 2012-13 $1,043,368FY 2013-14 $2,660,000
FY 2014-15 $2,790,000
FY 2015-16 $2,660,000
FY 2016-17 $2,810,000