The Florida Departments of Education and Economic Opportunity signed contracts worth a total of $3.6 million with Fidelity under DeSantis’ guidance so that the company could distribute the checks on the behalf of the state rather than allow local city governments to do the legwork, which some are criticizing as a political move by the governor, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“They could have just sent the money to school districts at no cost to taxpayers,” Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said Thursday, according to the outlet. “It sounds like the governor’s wasting money.”
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, called the move “a joke” in a Thursday tweet replying to the Times’ reporting.
“What a joke. It’s all about getting credit, and it’s not even FL money — it’s from the American Rescue Plan!” Eskamani wrote, noting that the funds for bonuses are leftover from federal COVID-19 relief funds.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News.
DeSantis initially announced the bonuses for about 3,600 public school principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers worth a total of $216 million in March and then announced bonuses for about 174,000 first responders worth approximately $208 million in May.
Other critics have taken issue with the fact that bonuses will not go toward certain employees, such as counselors and assistant principals, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
All of the checks, which are expected to be distributed in mid-August, must include an “office of the governor” insignia, the Times reported.
Eskamani, in another Thursday tweet, said the governor “wants his name on these $1000 bonuses which not only costs extra money but also takes more time AND it’s not Florida money.”
DeSantis, in a May statement, called the bonuses for first-responders “a small token of appreciation,” adding that “we can never go far enough to express our gratitude for their selflessness.”
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