Gov.Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address highlighted Florida’s achievements in economic growth and public safety under his leadership while contrasting state policies with those at the federal level and expressing criticism of Democratic governance in other states.
Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered his State of the State address on Tuesday, interweaving state governance with national campaign rhetoric and echoing many of his recent speeches on the presidential campaign trail to outline a vision for Florida that doubles down on conservative policies.
The address, which commences the start of the 2024 Legislative Session, emphasized Florida’s achievements under DeSantis’ leadership, positioning the state as a figure of economic growth, educational freedom, and public safety.
“My message is simple: Stay the course,” DeSantis urged. “The state of our state is strong. Let’s keep doing what works. Let’s continue to make Florida the envy of the nation.”
His speech, laden with comparisons between Florida and states under Democratic governance, aimed to showcase Florida’s policies as exemplary, with a clear nod to his broader national ambitions. DeSantis then went on to criticize the Biden administration, citing record homelessness, a significant portion of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, and a federal budget deficit expected to hit $2 trillion. He also highlighted the issue of illegal immigration and the challenges posed by fentanyl, linking these to policy failures at the federal level.
Continuing to make comparisons between Florida and cities in traditionally blue states, his focus on issues like the “doom loop” in San Francisco, “soft on crime” policies in Chicago, and the broader “failures” driving migration to Florida aligns closely with the narratives he has been presenting on the presidential campaign trail.
“California’s per capita spending is triple our state’s, and they now face a $68 billion budget deficit, he remarked. “Violent crime is up, robberies are up, and a recent Stanford University study shows that businesses are leaving in droves.”
Turning stateside again, DeSantis pointed to Florida’s stance on school choice and its positioning against what he termed “indoctrination” in schools, largely reverberating his past spiels on the campaign trail in early voting states, where he has been vocal about his opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in public universities, labeling them as “discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination.”
DeSantis further praised Florida’s economic resilience and low unemployment rates, attributing them to conservative fiscal policies and a friendly business environment. He pointed to tax cuts aimed at alleviating burdens on families, including the removal of sales taxes on baby items.
The governor’s address also veered into foreign policy, particularly Florida’s response to the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, detailing the state-organized evacuation flights for Americans stranded in Israel and mentioned increased state sanctions against Iran, due to its ties with Hamas. He extended an invitation to Jewish students facing antisemitism on campuses outside Florida, offering support for their transfer to Florida’s institutions.
“This week, Jewish students across the country are returning to campuses that have condoned antisemitism,” DeSantis said. “Over the coming months, they will have a tough decision to make – pack up and leave or stay and endure continued hatred – and if they do decide to come to Florida, we will welcome them with open arms.”
Florida Democrat leaders promptly responded by criticizing DeSantis’s agenda as “out of touch” and “politically motivated,” with Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book accusing him of prioritizing presidential aspirations over state issues and pushing an “extreme, right-leaning agenda.”
“The very essence of what has made our state great for decades is under continued threat due to an increasingly out-of-touch and extreme agenda championed by the Republican Party of Florida, and a governor who is more preoccupied with running for president than solving problems in our state,” said Book. “These days, DeSantis can be found in Iowa, New Hampshire, or on Fox News – leaving Floridians behind to fend for themselves in the face of Medicaid disenrollments and an education system poisoned by politics.”
House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell highlighted economic challenges under DeSantis’ leadership, including struggles with housing affordability and the high cost of living.
“Our absentee governor, your governor visited all 99 counties in Iowa while our property insurance rates rent, and cost of living skyrocketed, she said. “Meanwhile, we are in a property insurance crisis, with Floridians paying the highest premiums in the nation. And after two regular sessions and two special sessions specifically dedicated to this issue. Our rates are still out of control. That’s because the GOP legislature has prioritized only the needs of the insurance companies, not the people.”