In what was a likely preview of the State of the State address he’ll give to the Florida Legislature in a couple of weeks, Gov. Ron DeSantis painted a positive picture about the future of the state in a speech he gave Wednesday to the Economics Club of Florida in Tallahassee.
“All in all, I’m very optimistic about the possibilities for our state,” DeSantis said. “I think we’re a state that is on the ascent. I think we are mindful how bad policy can undercut economic momentum, undercut opportunities for people.”
DeSantis says the state’s largest industry remains strong, unveiling tourism numbers for last year that marked another record year for the number of tourists that visited Florida.
“In 2018, Florida welcomed a record 126.1 million tourists into our state,” DeSantis announced. “That’s eight years in a row that we set a new record.”
It’s not just tourists that Florida is trying to attract. DeSantis says the state will continue to encourage businesses to come to Florida. He vowed he would never support a state income tax and would continue the work of his predecessor, now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, to attract new businesses by lowering taxes on businesses and reducing regulations.
DeSantis says there is a “hostility” toward corporations that exists in other states that Florida stands to benefit from. He points to the recent rift between Amazon and New York City that ended with Amazon pulling its plans to build a new campus in Queens.
“I think there is hostility towards companies like Amazon. A lot of financial institutions are demagogued. I think they are paying a price for doing that,” DeSantis asserted. “What I can say on behalf of Florida to companies like Amazon, we welcome you to come to Florida.”
DeSantis says that’s not to say that everything is rosy in the Sunshine State. As in other states, he says the biggest threat to small and medium businesses is health care costs. Addressing the cost of health care is a priority of the Florida House and DeSantis says he looks forward to working with House Speaker José Oliva to tackle the issue.
The governor is scheduled to make an announcement later Wednesday afternoon dealing with the high cost or prescription drugs.
DeSantis says offering more educational opportunities for Florida’s young people will help the state remain competitive in the business world. While continuing to work on improving the state’s university system, he reiterated his call to develop programs to promote vocational education and apprenticeships to provide more options for young people to be trained for specific skills, while diversifying the state’s workforce.