Here's what Gov. Rick Scott said last summer when it comes to the federal stimulus:
"It's not free money,'' Scott told reporters during a campaign bus trip across North Florida.
Scott, who was then a candidate running against Attorney General Bill McCollum, also said at that time that he would not have balanced the state budget with any money from the controversial federal stimulus package.
"I would have figured out how to balance the budget without it," Scott said. "We have to live within our means, governments have to live within their means. There’s a day of reckoning."
Scott also said then that "stimulus spending didn't help us."
Let's flash forward to now. Scott last week signed a sweeping executive order that froze new rules - and suspended for up to 90 days any contract that is worth more than $1 million.
None of the contracts can go forward until the newly created Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform reviews them. Some of the contracts - including a $450 million sole source contract with Bank of America - have been approved. The Scott administration has also let loose nearly $90 million worth of road-building projects.
But some of the road projects - and just as importantly - some of the pending contracts were funded with federal stimulus dollars.
Example: Scott has held up nearly $117 million worth of contracts that would take stimulus money and give it local groups around the state in order to do weatherization grants for low-income families. This is stimulus money that is intended to be used to help people lower their utility bills while also helping create jobs. The contracts now held up would go to organizations stretching across the state from Miami-Dade County to Orange County to Northeast Florida to Bay County. This program came under a little bit of scrutiny as some wondered why stimulus money was going to help people lower air-conditioning bills instead of helping their homes withstand winter weather. But information provided to Scott's office contends that the weatherization grants have created or saved 800 jobs as of the final quarter of 2010.
When asked about Scott's past comments regarding the stimulus, Brian Burgess, a spokesman for the governor said in an e-mail that this does not mean that the governor would halt the pending contracts. He said that the governor "thought it was wrong to use federal stimulus dollars (i.e. one time cash grants) to balance the state budget."
UPDATE: The Scott administration on early Friday evening announced it had approved a whole long list of contracts, including the contracts for weatherization grants that were funded with federal stimulus dollars.