Today, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is shooting back with a letter encouraging Scott, a Republican, to work on his fellow GOP politicians in Congress, many of whom rejected budget-cutting alternatives.
About 1,000 Guardsmen in Florida are slated to be furloughed for 11 days beginning next month, which Scott has said could hurt their preparation for dealing with major storms.
The sequestration itself is a budget-cliff of bipartisan production. It amounts to $995 billion cut over 10 years -- $42 billion in the fiscal year ending next Sept. 30 -- and was approved in 2011 by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress in hopes of forcing a budget-reduction deal. But the two parties could not agree on alternative cuts, so the sequestration took effect earlier this year.
Here's Nelson's letter to Scott:
June 7, 2013
The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor of Florida
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
SENT VIA EMAIL WITH HARD COPY TO FOLLOW
Dear Gov. Scott:
I appreciate your letter of June 5, echoing the concerns Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr. publicly expressed about sequestration in his opinion column published last month by the National Guard Association of The United States.
I have had my staff examining the Florida National Guard’s risk assessment and requests for relief, as well as the Department of Defense’s consideration of those requests; and, any actions taken by authorities so far to mitigate possible readiness risks during the 2013 hurricane season.
As was reported today by Gannett newspapers in Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio and I both agree nothing can be changed right now with only a few months left in this fiscal year.
Instead, you could be enormously helpful by urging some of the Florida Republican members of Congress to get rid of the sequester by exploring with us more sensible and strategic ways to reduce the budget for the next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1.
Regarding your concern about increased costs to the state, let me share with you what I have received from the legal office of FEMA Director Craig Fugate. If you as Governor activate the National Guard in anticipation of a federal disaster, the state’s costs, including the costs to recall any furloughed Guardsmen, will be fully reimbursable by FEMA.
Specifically: “For the purposes of FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Emergency Work reimbursement, the National Guard must be activated by the Governor to conduct disaster related emergency work. This would include the activation of National Guardsmen who are on furlough (dual status technicians).
“Under a Presidential disaster declaration, FEMA reimburses the State (Grantee), subject to the State cost-share, for costs in excess of those incurred for weekend drills and annual training and other non-disaster related activations.”
Again, thank you for your letter in support of our ongoing efforts to define and explore alternatives.