JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at the Cecil Airport in Jacksonville to deliver grant awards for infrastructure improvement in Duval County. He announced $5.5 million to Jacksonville to link a main rail line north of I-10 to Cecil Commerce Center.
DeSantis said usually when he goes somewhere with Sec. Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, it meant they’d “be bringing gifts.” Typical appearances with infrastructure improvement signange come with awards of funding from the Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund.
“Today, what we’ve done, is identify different opportunities through different types of initiatives,” DeSantis said. “But one of the things I’ve used a lot is the Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund. We’ve used that to bolster workforce training but also infrastructure. And if there’s key infrastructure where we can come very quickly, a county, a city, and get something done that’s gonna have a high impact of value in terms of jobs and industrial base and things that are our priorities, we’re going to do that.”
He then announced $5.5 million to the City of Jacksonville to build a railway track for serving Cecil Commerce Center, with an expected three mile railway, aiding logistical needs for manufacturers. DeSantis said the investment would lead to $14 million for the city, and that some companies were in discussion to come to Florida as a result.
Cecil Commerce Center is right near I-10, and near both the Cecil Airport and Jaxport, “making it a prime location” for companies involved in shipping and distribution, according to DeSantis.
Eagle spoke after the governor, praising the investments and saying that DeSantis was focused on the whole state for economic improvement and promising to look for more ways to help businesses “lift themselves up.”
DeSantis returned to the podium, highlighting Florida’s “massive budget reserves” and the migration of people to Florida “because we were open.” He said the state’s low taxes were encouraging more activity and that the economic outlook was putting revenue ahead of initial forecasts.
“It just shows you that good policy does matter, it makes a big impact, and we’re going to be able to do a lot,” DeSantis said, promising more investment and reforms aimed at toll relief. He also thanked Northeast Florida voters for “coming through big for us.”
Earlier in the news conference, before he focused on the day’s grant announcement, DeSantis addressed COVID policies in China.
“This Zero-COVID policy is draconian, it violates people’s liberties, it’s unscientific, and the people of China are right to be able to speak out and protest against what the Chinese Communist Party is doing,” DeSantis said. “The CCP has as maniacal desire to assert total control over its population. Zero-COVID is just the pretext for them to do what they want to do anyways, and that is not a model that can work for them in the longterm.”
DeSantis said he wanted draconian COVID-19 policies to go to the “ash heap of history” rather than continue.
“As you’ve seen that go on, there’s reports that Apple is not allowing the protesters to use this AirDrop function, where they’re trying to communicate,” DeSantis said. “Obviously this is providing aid and comfort to the CCP. You also hear reports that Apple is threatening to remove Twitter from the App store because Elon Musk is actually opening it up for free speech and is actually restoring a lot of accounts that were unfairly or illegitimately suspended for putting out accurate information about COVID.”
The governor described Apple’s potential removal of Twitter from the App Store, “nuking them” as an example of “raw exercise of monopolistic power,” warranting response from U.S. Congress, and said the company shouldn’t be a “vassal of the CCP on the one hand,” and preventing Americans from expressing themselves. DeSantis said he was happy with what was happening at Twitter since Musk’s takeover, but that there was “a lot of work to do with Big Tech” companies.
At the end of the event, DeSantis opened up the floor for questions. Asked about the 2022 election, DeSantis said Florida’s midterms were run transparently and effectively, while other states did not.
Citing the two hurricanes that came as the election arrived, DeSantis said Florid had dealt with Hurricane Nicole, made repairs, and aided recovery while also finishing vote counts quickly, while weeks after the fact, some states were still counting.
“I think Florida is leading the way,” DeSantis said, before discussing election laws and fraud. “I think the fact that we have put in place an ability to hold people accountable if they violate election laws has contributed to compliance. Why violate the law if you’re going to be held accountable? It’s not worth it. And not every election is close. My election was not close, that’s how you want to win, but we have elections that are close.”
The governor mentioned an “illegal alien” arrested in Broward County, who had been previously charged nine times. Focusing on reports of election issues, DeSantis said he didn’t get personally involved with cases.
Answering a question about divisive politics, DeSantis said he was tired of the media “trying to manufacture division all the time.”
“With all due respect, I’m concerned when people in the media take some Jabroni and try to elevate them and make them some type of celebrity, that is wrong,” DeSantis said. “What you’ve seen in the state of Florida is this is a state where everyone can succeed, it’s a state where we’ve proven that, not just with my administration, but in terms of employment and business and all that, but also who we’ve had running state agencies, who we’ve appointed to the judiciary.”
DeSantis said it was “totally wrong to try to tar” an entire state for “hate.”
Asked about House Bill 1557, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida, DeSantis said that calling the bill that was a “false narrative” and that Florida was a state where people fight back against it.
“That was a false narrative, and the difference I think in Florida is that we fight back against that. We don’t let the media cow us into accepting that,” DeSantis said. “We don’t play their game, we fight back against it, we told the truth to people, we told the truth to parents all throughout the state of Florida, and I know particularly the national media corporations, they tried to run with this. They were trying to smear the legislature and all of this other stuff, but you know what, the people here saw the facts, and they responded, and they supported us.”
DeSantis said that in the past four years, Florida has “run the gamut” on getting results on a wide variety of issues and subjects, including economy, tax relief, and environmental protection, among other topics.