BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in Bradenton. He started off by highlighting the state’s unemployment rate and labor force growth. Florida’s unemployment level is 2.7% while the overall U.S. rate is 3.7%.

Signage at the event read “Family-Focused Tax Relief.” The governor said next year’s meeting of lawmakers would bring permanent tax relief on baby items. The event was held at Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside on 14th Street West.

DeSantis pointed to efforts from the 2022 legislation to provide tax relief to Florida families, and criticized inflation’s effect on consumer prices during the presidency of Joe Biden, promising further efforts in the 2023 session.

“I already proposed one year to slash tolls on all roads in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “That’s just something that matters.” Then he talked about the state’s $21.8 billion budget surplus and the recently announced toll relief initiatives for Florida drivers, and other tax relief efforts for child clothes and diapers.

“In next year’s tax relief package, we’re going to work with the legislature to enact a permanent exemption on those baby necessities,” DeSantis said. “They will not be taxed going forward.” He said he would propose a permanent sales tax exemption on all cribs and strollers to help families afford those necessities, in addition to a full-year tax exemption on children’s books and toys, for kids up to 12 years old, as well as all household items $25 or cheaper, for each individual item.

“If you buy $500 of stuff, every single thing is tax free, so that could be pretty significant,” the governor said. “Particularly people that have big families.”
He also said there would be tax exemptions for athletic equipment. DeSantis said that many families look after not just children, but pets, and promised to put forward a sales tax exemption for a year on pet food, as well as a permanent tax exemption for over the counter pet medications.

“Just like strollers and everything with babies and how expensive, you know, pets are expensive too,” DeSantis said. “There’s just a lot that goes into it. If we can lessen that burden, we will. We’re also going to expand our back-to-school sales tax holiday.”

DeSantis said there would be additional tax holidays for the fall and spring semesters, and said he’d be proposing a permanent sales tax exemption for all medical supplies and equipment. The tax holidays created from the 2022 session would also be renewed, according to DeSantis.

“This is the most robust package, this is $1.1 billion just what I announced here,” DeSantis said. “Then you look at the toll relief, which is between $200-$500 million in toll relief, and we’re not done yet.” Before yielding the podium to Dept. of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle, DeSantis pointed to the state’s efforts to pay law enforcement, first responders, and teachers more from the previous legislative session.

“Our job at DEO is to assist the governor with advancing the economy. And the truth is we are outperforming the nation,” Eagle said saying it was thanks to the governor’s Freedom First policies. “People are choosing to come to Florida for hope and opportunity,” Eagle said. “The truth is they can come here and they are going to be better off, but they cannot escape the effects of the federal government and Biden inflation.”

Eagle said the reality was that Floridians would benefit from DeSantis’ policies, calling it monumental. Florida parents spoke next, telling the crowd how the proposed tax relief would help them save and have peace of mind, then thanked DeSantis for those efforts.

After the residents spoke, DeSantis returned to the podium to again highlight the budget again. He said part of why the tax relief was even an option was due to his use of the line-item veto during the 2022 budget planning. In 2022, DeSantis said he vetoed $3.1 billion in budget items.

“We’ve done a lot for you guys,” DeSantis said. “There are some things that are must have, some things you shouldn’t have, and then some things might be nice to have, and you’ve just got to make those decisions.” A list of the proposed tax relief items was provided by the governor’s office after the event.

Then the governor answered some questions from the crowd, discussing education, migration, and national politics.