DOVER, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigned in Dover Thursday, morning. Signage at the event read “Farmers Stand with DeSantis.” The event was hosted by the Florida Farm Bureau Federation FarmPAC.
DeSantis described Florida as a place of opportunity, commenting on the the efforts the state has taken to boost Florida’s economy and deliver on promises they make to residents.
“We want to have a governor that people can depend on,” DeSantis said. He said the state had been able to do a lot, mentioning the Strawberry Festival held in Hillsborough County ,the “first after COVID,” saying it was a success, remembering bringing his own children to the festival and that those at the event had “enjoyed themselves” and were “having a good time.”
DeSantis said that’s what was important, “people being able to live their lives,” and criticized California politicians for having issues with Florida, even as they “can’t even keep their power on.”
A series of heatwaves have led to near-blackouts in California, according to reports by the Associated Press.
Then DeSantis turned to comments on the national economy and ongoing inflation issues, mostly centered on power and energy supply in the U.S. He said Florida was fighting back against those economic headwinds and using a “record budget surplus” to do so. In 2022, Florida reported a $22 billion surplus, a historic high for the state.
Referring to the recently passed and signed federal Inflation Reduction Act, DeSantis said the U.S. government under President Joe Biden. DeSantis said compared to how Florida had kept tuition costs from rising and had programs like the Bright Futures Scholarship program, Biden’s student debt relief plan would add to inflation.
Then, DeSantis turned his focus to crime and politics. He said Florida was a law and order state, referencing his suspension of 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren, saying he was a state attorney who would not prosecute crimes.
Then, DeSantis spoke about state efforts to block vaccine mandates as requirements for work. He said Florida’s government had done a lot to protect jobs and give freedom of choice for COVID-19 vaccination, before mentioning the various workforce training initiatives undertaken by the Department of Education and the governor’s office to prepare residents for jobs and economic opportunity.
Speaking of education, DeSantis highlighted new legislation from the past session to increase teacher salaries, teach financial literacy, and update the state curriculum to include “important subject matters” like civics, which DeSantis said the state had doubled down on.
“It’s something really important to be teaching our students, what it means to be American, what the Constitution is all about, where our rights come from, the Bill of Rights,” DeSantis said. “We’ve put a premium on, which we weren’t before.”
Talking about the teacher salary increases, DeSantis said the state had made salary levels a categorical budget item, increasing salaries to $48,000, a “huge increase” compared to previous years and said they’ve added more funding for schools than ever before.
“We are very very insistent that the purpose of our education system is to educate students, not to indoctrinate students,” DeSantis said. “We believe in the rights of parents, that they have a fundamental role in the education and upbringing of their children. They have a right to know what curriculum is being used in the schools, that they have the right to object if they have inappropriate material. And some of the stuff they’re trying to get into middle schools is really grotesque.”
DeSantis said “corporate media outlets” was whitewashing the materials issues in Florida schools, saying the media was making “parents were like crazy,” but saying the books “were way outside the bounds” of what was appropriate for students.
“We think it’s important to arm parents to fight for their kids, to fight for a good education. I have a five, a four, and a two-year-old. My wife and I, we obviously want our kids to grow up well,” DeSantis said. “You turn on some of these cartoons even and they jam all this stuff in there. Can’t we just send them to school and let them be kids? Why are you trying to jam transgenderism into first grade?”
The governor said Florida had passed a bill to prevent that from happening, which while unnamed was likely a reference to House Bill 1557, titled “Parental Rights in Education,” but called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its opponents.
In closing, the governor said voting for him meant keeping Florida, Florida.
“Don’t take anything for granted, understand that freedom isn’t free, it’s something you’ve got to fight for in a variety of ways,” DeSantis said. “Now we’re called in the state of Florida to make sure we turn out every single voter that we can to make sure we say very clearly that our mission in 2022 is to keep the state of Florida free.”