Billion dollar state surplus fuels questions about state's broken solar promise

$25 million still owed to thousands

At a recent campaign stop in West Palm Beach, Florida Governor Rick Scott took the opportunity to brag about the future.

"This state is headed in the right direction," he told the crowd of supporters.

So the Contact 5 Investigators took the chance to ask about the past.

It's been a year and a half, since the Contact 5 Investigators climbed new heights to reveal how a 2006 statewide solar rebate program ran out of cash.  The result left thousands of people like Kevin Minogue of Palm Beach Gardens losing money.

"The panels work.  What doesn't work is the legislature," he told the Contact 5 Investigators last year.

Kevin tapped into his pension to front the $30,000 for 22 photovoltaic rooftop solar panels.  The state promised to refund Kevin $20,000.  He got half back.

Archie Kloepfer, of West Palm Beach, also bought into the state's pitch to get money back if he invested in solar.

So did Judy Boehm and 11,000 others.

Just moments after touting a $1.3 billion state surplus, the Contact 5 Investigators asked Governor Rick Scott about the $25 million broken promise and the thousands of people still waiting for the full rebates they were promised.

Contact 5 Investigators:  "Why not pay them?"

Governor Rick Scott:  "Sure, we continue to work for the legislature every year.  I work with the legislature to make sure we do all the right things with the budget, but those things go through the legislature and I'll continue to work with them."

"The state is going to pay," expressed State Representative Irv Slosberg following our story in February 2013.

"I did as much as I could but the law says until the funds are depleted."  When asked why lawmakers couldn't take a piece of the billion dollar surplus to pay the outstanding debt from the solar rebate promises, Slosberg replied, "the purse strings are controlled by the Republican legislature and the governor."

Slosberg blames politics.  He says Republicans aren't interested in following through on an old solar promise made by then Republican governor, Charlie Crist.  Crist is now running against Scott as a Democrat.

"They [Republicans] control the purse strings, they could fund whatever they want to fund," he said.

Kevin, Archie and Judy have lost hope that the Sunshine State will ever make good on the promise that continues to fuel frustration.

"We were given a guarantee in writing," said Judy.  "They promised us, they need to pay."

 


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