Rick Scott Bashes Feds Over Zika Funding, But Slashed Mosquito Control Money

By Marc Caputo and Christine Sexton of Politico, 08/05/2016:
Scott, lawmakers cut programs 40 percent in 2011

MIAMI — As the Zika virus spreads in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has toured the state, talked up his administration’s commitment to fighting the mosquito-borne ailment and frequently criticized Congress and President Obama for not spending enough to help out.

But Scott is far less eager to talk about his own record of cutting mosquito-control programs over the years, including the elimination of a state-funded pesticide-testing facility that was once known as “the mosquito lab.”

“Let’s look at the success the state’s had. We have very good mosquito control efforts all around the state,” Scott said at a Miami-area press conference Thursday when asked by POLITICO about the effects of those prior cuts and whether he had any regrets about it.

“Let’s look at history,” Scott continued. “We’ve had dengue fever and chikungunya. The state’s done a very good job in dealing with those issues.”

Scott pointed out that he has freed up $26 million in state money and that the state has aggressively sprayed for bugs and warned residents in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood after the first cases of locally-transmitted Zika were documented this week.

Florida now has now documented 408 Zika infections. The fast-mutating virus, which causes feverish symptoms in adults, alarms experts because it has been linked to severe infant microcephaly. In response, Scott on Thursday called on the federal government for more help testing pregnant women. He also called out Congress and Obama for not passing a significant spending package to fight Zika. The legislation died last month after House Republicans added poison-pill language concerning the Confederate flag and Planned Parenthood.

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