TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at back-to-back events Wednesday morning. The first was in Mayo, the second at BubbaQue’s BBQ in Trenton. In Gilchrist, he discussed inflation concerns and issues with federal policies that he said hurt American consumers.
While there, DeSantis said he’d be approving funding for broadband expansion in rural Florida communities and funding for local infrastructure and economic development, as well as public safety and presented a check to deliver that funding.
As he did in Mayo Wednesday, the governor discussed the morning’s release of the newest Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the costs of energy and fuel. DeSantis again mentioned China’s lockdown protocols and how it had kept more people inside during April, and the effect it had on fuel prices, before announcing the funding for the county and where the money would go.
“Today is good because I think we’re going to be able to deliver for this community,” DeSantis said, turning to the infrastructure funding award he would be delivering to Gilchrist County. He said that he was still reviewing the state budget, but “when we do sign the budget, we will have more than $23 million for Gilchrist County for things like infrastructure, economic development, and public safety.”
He said the projects included $18 million for road resurfacing projects, $4.7 million through the small community outreach program for bridge and road maintenance, and another $370,000 to give raises to the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office deputies. DeSantis said the $370,000 would be in addition to the previously planned raises for law enforcement across Florida and a second year of $1,000 bonuses for all officers in the state.
“The money to increase the sheriff’s deputies compensation, that’s in addition to those bonuses, that’s not in lieu of that, and so we’re really proud to be able to do that,” DeSantis said. “That was the legislature providing monies specifically to increase pay for sheriff’s departments in rural communities.”
DeSantis said other communities would benefit from those efforts soon.
“You will now see the Fed continue to raise interest rates to try to tamp down the inflation, that’s likely to slow down the overall economy, and that’s likely to plunge us into a recession,” DeSantis said. “Now, we hope not, but what we’ve done in Florida is prepare to meet whatever exigent circumstances we end up seeing.”
Mentioning the coming budget, DeSantis said the state budget was $101.5 billion, and the state’s budget surplus was going to be more than $20 billion by the end of June, “the biggest in history” for the state.
“If there is a slowdown because of what’s going on in DC, we’ve actually got a lot of stuff going on in this state, that we may be able to weather it better than many other states,” DeSantis said. “In the ’08, ’09 recession, Florida did way worse than most states. This one, our economy, we have a lot of people that want to invest here, we’ve got a lot of opportunities. So hopefully that…But from a budget perspective, if there is a slowdown and the revenue starts coming in under, all I’ve gotta do is grab some money from the kitty and plug it into the hole, if we have one. Education, law enforcement, all of that, we’ll just continue on. That’s what you want to do, you want to plan to be able to meet whatever circumstances happen, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to work over the last three-and-a-half years, to be very fiscally prudent. We didn’t know with COVID what was going to happen and it turns out, we’ve never had stronger revenues coming into the state, even though we have no income tax and the lowest per capita tax burden. We’re proud of that, but we’re also proud we didn’t do like Washington and just spend like drunken sailors. But then all of a sudden you end up with all of these problems. So I think we’re built for the long haul and we’re happy about hat again, hopefully we don’t have anything major but I can tell you there’s a lot of warning signs, based on all the stuff that they’re doing. They continue to print the money and I don’t see them really reversing course. If you wanted to help people in our country right now, you should make America energy independent, like we were a just a couple of years ago. We were getting our own energy. Basically over the last year and a half, they stopped all of these things. Keystone. ANWAR. Really can’t do anything on federal land. They now say they will provide leases, but they’re not going to end up permitting any of these projects. So these companies know, we have a situation where we were energy independent, we were producing more than just about anybody, and they’ve now basically put the knee on the neck of the energy industry. They’re going to beg OPEC to lower price, they’re going to beg the Maduro regime to maybe give us some of their oil. I don’t know how that works. American oil, somehow that’s global warming but if you get it from Maduro, somehow that’s okay? I mean give me a break. I think the Biden administration has done this and has exacerbated these problems with inflation, but particularly with energy. And if you think of all of the things that matter, there’s a handful of things that you’ve just gotta pay for like food, energy, the like. Particularly for people that gotta get to work every day, you’ve gotta pay for that gas.”
Like he did in Mayo, DeSantis discussed price differences and fuel costs at the pump in Florida and other states, saying he had not seen gas in Florida below $4 per gallon “for a while.”
Also mentioning the Washington policy of “printing money” as he did in Mayo, DeSantis said he was concerned about costs of groceries and how the inflation levels would impact Floridians.
He said America should utilize the resources available, which would have an immediate effect on the market.
“The energy markets are forward looking, not really what’s happening right now when you see the price going up or down,” DeSantis said. “I would say step up to the plate and really do that, provide meaningful relief. We in Florida have done a lot to help people, we did the biggest tax relief we’ve ever done, I signed it on Friday in Ocala. It’s almost $1.3 billion. It’s got, we don’t have an income tax, so you can’t cut those tax rates, but what it does is it provides tax holidays, from sales tax for a lot of different things. We continued doing things we’ve always done, like back to school tax holiday, we’ve done the disaster preparedness, now we’re doing stuff for tools and other stuff, and that’ll help people who are in business doing that stuff but also help folks fix stuff around the house. You want to strengthen your windows or thins against storms, you’ll get that tax free. You’ll also get a gas tax holiday starting in a couple of months.”
DeSantis praised members of the Legislature for their efforts at stopping taxes on diapers and baby clothes for a year starting in July, saying the First Lady, Casey DeSantis, had asked him why he hadn’t done that earlier.
“I think this energy is going to continue to be a problem, and unfortunately some of this is a self-inflicted wound by the federal government,” DeSantis said. “We’ve also been very outspoken on opposing the Department of Homeland Security creating a Disinformation Bureau. To basically police speech in this country. what they want to do is create preferred narratives, and then if you dissent form those narratives, they want to label that as disinformation. They want to marginalize and hopefully, from their perspective, de-platform and censor people who are not toeing the lien of the narratives that they want. They put this, you have this woman in charge of it and she has indulged in a lot of disinformation over the years. She was a big supporter of Russia collusion and all of these things we know were not true. Here’s what I think they’re doing with this. They’re not going to be able to necessarily directly censor you from the government because they know that would be unconstitutional. So they’re going to do and say what they want as the truth, what we may say in dissent is somehow misinformation or disinformation and they’re going to give that to the social media companies and say ‘you guys have a responsibility to police disinformation on your platforms, and they’re going to hope the social media companies do their dirty work and stifle dissent. And in Florida, we will fight back against that because that’s really a threat to the First Amendment. They’ll say they’re private companies, and they are, but if you’re subcontracting out, the government is subcontracting out to these private entities, they have to follow the First Amendment too at that point, you can’t evade the First Amendment by doing that. So I think this is a huge huge problem, that they decided to do. And just think about the last couple of years. What they said was disinformation almost always turned out to be true.”
Like in Mayo, DeSantis again referred back to his stances on immune response to COVID-19 and the position of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and how it had taken more than a year for the agency to acknowledge natural immunity after recovering from COVID. He also mentioned the state’s position on school lockdowns and how Florida had let children back to school, preventing achievement gaps from occurring.
The governor also addressed social media companies and censorship. DeSantis said the “elite” wanted to use social media companies to control the narrative and that Elon Musk taking over Twitter would prevent elites from “having their ideology to rule.” DeSantis said Musk would “not play that game and would open it up,” and that’s why some were worried about losing “their ability to stifle dissent.”
The governor said the state, which owns shares of Twitter in the state pension, had written to Twitter’s board, saying it was their fiduciary responsibility to accept the buyout offer on behalf of shareholders. DeSantis said the buyout could get the state’s pension as much as $15 million more in value.
“I think they begrudgingly accepted it,” DeSantis said about Twitter’s board. “It’s actually a good deal…He’s somebody that’s been very successful in his endeavors but through the resistance from it. And you see all of these media companies attacking Musk. I don’t even think he’s a conservative, he just doesn’t want to have an oppressive narrative shoved down his throat. He just wants people to be able to speak and be able to speak the truth. They’re really attacking him because they’re concerned that if you have ideas that cannot withstand scrutiny, the one thing you want is to try to silence the dissenters. Because if your ideas can’t stand on their own, then that’s really the only way that you can get people to accept anything, is to just try to create an appearance that there’s really no dissent from this and that nobody’s complaining. If your ideas are strong then you welcome the dissent because it only strengthens your position and people see that what you’re saying is actually the truth.”
DeSantis said that the only people opposing Musk’s takeover of Twitter were those who “think they should be able to shove their views down our throats” and that with Musk in the lead, those days would be over.
The governor referred back to the state’s Big Tech Censorship bill from 2021, as he did in Mayo, saying that the case was proceeding in court and that he felt the state would end up winning the court case over the bill, which he signed into law the previous summer.
“We’re also announcing that we will be approving the $30 million in the budget for the rural infrastructure fund,” DeSantis said. “This is money that can go directly to local communities for things like workforce, infrastructure, things that are really significant, particularly for counties that are fiscally constrained, or have smaller tax bases.”
The governor then mentioned the big population boom of people moving to Florida and how it was making more populated counties “flush with” money, a reason that funding for more rural counties was being provided.
“We’re also announcing that we are supporting $400 million for rural broadband in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “This will help not only with education, but it will also help with workforce, and it’s interesting, rural broadband is not just in need in rural counties,” but also in heavily populated larger counties that have rural areas. “I think it’s going to make a big difference.”
The governor, as he did in Mayo, thanked those gathered for their prayers and support as his wife Casey DeSantis went through her cancer diagnosis and treatment, and for lifting her spirits. He referred to the story he told about a dinner they attended in The Villages, where she spoke to supporters and thanked them for their well wishes.