Historic City News reporters watched Tuesday as Florida Governor, and St Johns County resident, Ron DeSantis delivered his “State-of-the-State” address during the opening day of the 60-day, election-year, Legislative Session.
DeSantis emphasized freedom for Floridians; touting his opposition to vaccine and mask mandates as well as virtually any kind of restrictions imposed under the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies. According to the Governor, federal pandemic policies have been “as ineffective as they have been destructive.”
“Florida is a free state,” DeSantis told Florida’s House and Senate members, who themselves are powered by money and politics. “We reject the biomedical security state that curtails liberty, ruins livelihoods, and divides society. We will protect the rights of individuals to live their lives free from the yoke of restrictions and mandates.”
DeSantis proclaimed Tuesday that our economy in Florida is the envy of the nation. He declared that our state is well-prepared to withstand future economic turmoil.
That opinion was not universally accepted, of course. Three prominent challengers to DeSantis are running for their party’s nomination in the fall. They include Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, St. Petersburg Democrat, and former Republican governor, US Representative Charlie Crist, and Florida Senator Annette Taddeo of Miami.
This year, the state treasury is awash in cash, supplemented by $3.4 billion of federal relief money. “This is money that is coming down from a Democratic Congress and a Biden administration – this money would not be there, so it’s important to recognize where this money is coming from,” Commissioner Fried said.
“DeSantis has no plan to safely help families return to normal, except by attacking and fining local counties and schools that want to make their own decisions about common-sense public health measures. Instead of creating more opportunities for kids, he focused on undermining public education and taking credit for teacher bonuses made possible by the American Rescue Plan that he opposed,” refuted Sam Newton, Deputy Communications Director of the Democratic Governors Association. “Ron DeSantis continues to put his political ambitions first and has no serious solutions to the biggest problems facing Florida families. Floridians deserve real solutions to the everyday problems they face — not more of DeSantis’ self-serving politics and failures.”
More than 3,400 bills and appropriations projects have been filed this session. DeSantis has recommended pay raises and bonuses for politically active public employees. He has called for $1,000 bonuses for teachers, first responders, and law enforcement and is seeking $600 million for the third year of an effort to increase starting pay for all Florida teachers to $47.500 – a level among the highest in the nation, but which still hasn’t helped eliminate a 5,000-person teacher shortage in schools this year.
Historic City News subscribers should keep in mind that despite all the mid-term candidate crowing and positioning of their personal brand of political pork, only one measure must be approved – and that’s a state budget for 2022-23.