Florida politicians reject $52 million in Federal grants which could have helped prevent child abuse

2:11 AM, Jul 23, 2011   |    comments
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SAINT PETERSBURG, Florida -- The Federal government offered Florida more than $52 million. The money could've been used to prevent child abuse and assist the elderly, but state leaders rejected the money. Now, it seems, no one in Tallahassee wants to claim responsibility.

"It really is only for political reasons that the state is turning this money down," Patrick Cannon tells 10 News. Cannon works for Florida CHAIN, a non-profit health advocacy group, and he's stunned by the decision.

"This money that Florida turned away would help a lot of people," says Cannon.

The roughly $52.7 million in grants would come as a part of President Obama's health care reforms. Some speculate it's that connection to the Affordable Health Care Act that pushed politicians to reject it.

10 News contacted two Bay area child advocacy groups that could've gotten millions from this whole deal. However, both groups told us they couldn't comment on the issue. The leaders feared, after conversations with certain state legislators, that speaking out might lead to cuts in the agencies' state funding.

The question is: Who exactly is behind all this?

Republican Governor Rick Scott says he supported the federal grants, blaming the state legislature, but legislators in both parties told 10 News they never voted on the issue.

One Democratic House member said he doesn't know who to blame. "If the money is used to create jobs, enhance public safety, and keep our most vulnerable - like children and elderly - secure, then why are we rejecting it?" said Representative Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg.

Many believe rejecting the money will cost more in the end. Experts say Florida will end up paying the cost to treat abused children and arrest the people who hurt them, instead of using the Federal money to prevent the problems.

"I think when more people find out about what this money was intended for, and who it would help, that they'll be upset with the politicians in Tallahassee," added Patrick Cannon.

Some estimates put the loss for Florida at as much as $90 million in Federal grants.

10 News will continue to investigate who is responsible for rejecting the federal money.

If you want to find your local representative and contact them about this issue, visit: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

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