TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis commented on inflationary pressures and other economic concerns while speaking at spoke at the Hub City Smokehouse & Grill in Crestview. The governor delivered a $3.2 million grant to Okaloosa County for infrastructure development. Toward the end of the event, he accused President Joe Biden of violating his oath of office as a result of his border policies.
When DeSantis came to the podium, he started off by introducing some of the officials and community leaders gathered for the event before focusing on gas prices and inflation.
“This gas is going up even more. I mean, I think it’s going to be, I’m seeing it close to $5 in some parts of Florida,” DeSantis said. “It was probably about $4.15 just a couple of weeks ago, so it’s going up. They’re not doing energy in the United States. Now they’re saying they want to get oil from Maduro in Venezuela. All that’s going to do is just line his pockets. And actually it’ll help Russia. They’re always talking about Russia and Putin, well they have a very close relationship with Maduro and Putin. So they’re doing that and they’ll beg OPEC but they will not do more energy in the United States. And the result is that they’ve really reduced our ability to be energy independent, they’re canceling oil and gas leases in places like Alaska. And the people, the ones who have to fill up their gas tanks, are the ones that are paying the price for those bad policies.”
Then DeSantis referred to comments by Elon Musk that were critical of President Joe Biden, before returning to criticism of the current economy.
“So, I think what Elon Musk said the other day about whoever puts that stuff on the teleprompter is who the president is because you just never know,” DeSantis said. “But this is a huge failure. It’s really difficult for a lot of people and we have not even hit summer driving season yet. Unless they reverse course, you’re going to see it over $5 for unleaded, and in places like California, it’ll probably be $7 or $8 because of all the taxes they have. And that’s going to be a huge huge hit to a lot of working people. And the thing with energy, when that’s more expensive, it actually permeates everything else as well. Because everyone, when you’re producing things, when you’re doing this, you need energy, and if those costs are going up, all of the other things go. So it helps fuel inflation in more ways than just what you’re seeing at the gas pump. I think if you look at the time Biden came in, you see major inflation, and they were warned about printing all of this money, they said you could keep doing it, that there would be no inflation, but the result has been that there has been really sustained inflation for the first time in over 40 years. Who knows when the end is going to be. I think, you know because of all of this mismanagement, I think Biden plunges this country into a recession.”
Echoing previous commentary about the economy, the governor said Florida was well-positioned, with the coming budget and budget surplus putting the state in good shape to weather potential issues from inflation. Like he’s done before, DeSantis also compared Florida’s tax burden and budget to the state of New York, noting its lower population and higher budget, while saying Florida had “better roads, better schools,” better services and better state colleges. He again praised the record surplus of $20 billion Florida had, though it is important to note that portions of the budget surplus are due to federal assistance provided as a result of pandemic relief programs from both former President Donald Trump’s administration and U.S. Congress alongside President Biden.
DeSantis praised the state’s high economic growth and job numbers, with updated employment statistics coming from the DEO on Friday, saying the state was going “very fiscally strong” and that the state would “be foolish” not to take steps to address budget issues from inflation.
As he’s said in previous events and comments on the budget, DeSantis said Florida’s preparations would allow them to plug holes for budget needs in priorities like education, law enforcement, and infrastructure initiatives. Then he turned his comments on Washington politicians.
“You think about, Congress printed money, Biden was supporting of it, you know trillions and trillions of dollars. A lot of these Congress people have been there for 30 or 40 years,” DeSantis said. “And they’re really serving this country poorly. I think one of the best things we could do in our country is have term limits for members of Congress. We have term limits in the legislature in Florida and what that means is we have, you end up some of these guys, you have speakers and leaders of the senate and they’re there for two years as leader. So they have incentive to get a lot of things done and leave a legacy. In Washington, all they want to do is keep themselves in office forever. They end up making decisions that are constantly benefitting themselves at the expense of the country’s future. In Florida we have actually certified an amendment for term limits, some other states have done it, we need a lot more to do it. But if you actually did term limits, you would’ve had, just imagine, Nancy Pelosi would’ve been gone in the 1980s if you had term limits. Bottom line is, we are fighting back, we’re doing what we need to do, we’ll see what ends up happening, but it’s frustrating to see so many bad policies posed on the American people.”
DeSantis then, as he’s done in recent events, criticized the proposed Disinformation Governance Board in the Department of Homeland Security, aiming his criticism on its leader, Nina Jankowicz, and talking about how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other government agencies had pushed back on policies and comments as disinformation before later reversing course. Then he repeated more talking points he’s said in the past regarding education outcomes and masking in schools during the pandemic and Florida’s efforts to improve education over the past two years.
He said families were moving to Florida so they could have their children in schools, saying school enrollment in the state was higher.
“We’re supportive of home school, but in Florida our enrollment has increased over the past two years. Because we’ve been open, we didn’t say kids had to wear masks for eight hours a day,” DeSantis said. “We’re working to make sure the purpose of our school system is to educate our kids, not to indoctrinate our kids. That’s what parents want to see. We are doing more than anybody, not on education across the board, but just on that. Making sure that we didn’t see achievement gaps widen, and then being a place where the enrollment is actually one of the few states where it’s increasing. That’s tied to the funding. When you have less kids in school, then the school districts get less money. We’ve never had more funding for schools in the history of the state of Florida, and we’ve done things, that we really they haven’t done in a long time. Like promote vocational education, like make sure we don’t have ideology in the classroom like critical race theory and all of these other things. That’s really what leadership’s all about. We had the issue where we wanted parents to be able to send their kids to these young grades without having things like woke gender ideology in the curriculum, that was something important to a lot of parents. Some of the media didn’t like it, some companies didn’t like it, but at the end of the day, we govern this state on the basis of what’s in the best interest of this state, and not what some California-based corporation thinks, what they want to see. So, that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
After the unnamed Disney criticism concerning House Bill 1557, DeSantis went back to comments on the disinformation bureau.
“So you saw all that, they would say all this stuff with the schools and natural immunity, saying COVID was less risky for young people than old people, they said that was misinformation at one time. They said ‘an 8-year-old kid and an 80-year-old, everyone’s still at risk,'” DeSantis said. “That was wrong and we were right on that. Having the government tell you what’s true and what’s not is antithetical to the values this country was founded on. Particularly, a regime that is so divorced from reality like this one is. What they’re going to do, they’re going to take people that they want to marginalize and silence and they’re going to categorize what you’re saying as disinformation or misinformation. They’re not going to have the federal government necessarily crack down on that, but what they are going to do is give that information to the social media companies. And they’re going to expect Google and Facebook and Twitter, if Musk doesn’t end up getting it, they’re going to end up relying on them to enforce what they say is proper information and what they say is disinformation. But you know what, if you have good ideas, and you have good policies, you don’t need to worry about people criticizing you. The only reason they worry about it is they don’t want people to know the truth. Trying to stifle dissent, and they’re trying to muzzle people who are speaking out because they see the nonsense that’s going on around them. I mean just think about what the NCAA did with the women’s swim championship. You have a swimmer that swims on the men’s team for three years, and then all of a sudden says they’re going to identify as a woman swimmer, and swim against the women, and then they give that the national championship? Over these women who had been training for a long time. And the second place was actually from Florida, who had won a silver medal in the Olympics. So she got robbed of a national championship, because the NCAA is really trying to make us complicit in something that’s false. That’s what you’re going to get, they will absolutely do whatever they can with social media to try to stifle dissent.”
DeSantis promised that Florida would be on guard to fight back against those efforts, and said that if Musk “gets Twitter” he would open it up, and that was why “Twitter people” didn’t want him to do so. He mentioned a video that had come out with Twitter leadership saying “they basically just admitted on camera where” DeSantis said they “basically admitted ‘we don’t believe in free speech and all we want to do is marginalize people with conservative views.'” DeSantis said Musk, instead, would open it up.
“He’s going to open it up and then their ideas are going to have to withstand scrutiny. And they don’t want to have put their ideas to scrutiny, because if you’re telling me things like a man can get pregnant, that’s not true,” DeSantis said. “And we know that’s not true and we’re going to be able to say that’s not true. And they don’t want that. They want you to be muzzled. So, disinformation bureau, I think it’s probably unconstitutional anyways. But clearly if they’re subcontracting out these social media companies to do their dirty work, that’s violating the constitution indirectly, and they’re just as liable for that. So we’ll be on guard.”
Then DeSantis said the reason they were in Crestview was to expand the industrial base in the state of Florida, and praised the agricultural and tourism industries in the state. He said Florida had broken previous tourism records because of its open policies during COVID, where people “wouldn’t have to show papers” or wear a mask. Then, he praised the space coast in Florida and financial technology companies “wanting to come because quite frankly we have a better economic environment” but said that the U.S. should do more to make its own products, instead of letting China produce key things needed for the economy.
“Why would you want to have key things, which are made in China, which is a hostile country to us, which is an authoritarian country to us, and then us just be at the whim of whatever President Xi wants to do?” DeSantis said. “I don’t think that’s right. We’ve worked really hard to do that, we’ve got some great announcements in the pike as far as what’s going on throughout the state. There have been a number of companies that have moved down to the state of Florida to be able to produce things here and we’re working with more everyday.”
DeSantis said that in addition to a good economic climate, you had to be committed to workforce education, saying that a four-year college “brick and ivy” degree wasn’t necessarily the best way to build a career, and “in fact it’s not even the best way in many instances.” He said having really high demand skills for what would be considered a more traditional trade could lead to better career opportunities, noting the state’s investments in truck driver training programs, and others for electrical engineering and HVAC maintenance, which were lucrative and didn’t have debt when you entered those fields due to education.
“There’s been a lot of people from my generation on, that were told ‘man unless you have that college degree, you’re not going to be successful,'” DeSantis said. “So a lot of people have gone $100,000 in debt, some of them don’t even graduate, a lot of them don’t even graduate. And then some of them graduate and they have a Bachelor’s of Arts in Zombie Studies. And then they end up working at a job they could’ve had out of high school and then they’re deep deep in debt.”
DeSantis said Florida does not allow colleges to raise tuitions, and that there are programs like Bright Futures that help reduce college costs, then praised the state effort to increase education opportunities in the workforce and for skilled jobs. He said Florida was a leading state for workforce education. The governor said that in addition to workforce, you need infrastructure to bring companies in.
Soon after, DeSantis announced new funding awarded from the Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund to the amount of $3.2 million to Okaloosa County for the installation of road, rail, water and sewer, and broadband infrastructure for businesses at the Shoal River Ranch Giga site off of Highway 90. The governor’s office later said “the site is projected to make an economic impact of over $47.6 million after infrastructure improvements are made.”
“This buildout of this industrial site will create unprecedented opportunities in Okaloosa County consisting of as much as 11,000 new jobs. We believe this will include 4,000 new jobs in manufacturing, with an economic impact of almost $50 million by next decade,” DeSantis said. “Right now, there are 2,900 manufacturing jobs in all of Okaloosa County.” He said the initiative would more than double the manufacturing jobs in the area.
DeSantis said the county was working with a number of companies to make deals to draw development and businesses to Okaloosa, and that the infrastructure development would “give them the confidence” to move here knowing they had what they’d need in place. He promised more announcements in the future.
After “presenting the check” several local leaders spoke, as well as Sec. Eagle. They applauded the governor for his efforts to drive job growth and business development in the state.
Eagle said the governor was the official who made the final decisions on where the award funds are delivered. He said amid the current economic hurdles and “logistical nightmare we’re seeing nationally,” the awards would “double-down” on business development in Okaloosa. Eagle said businesses were looking to Florida “not for big cash handouts” but for the business environment. He said they were mostly looking for land, leading to how the grant in Okaloosa would be used.
Following the other speakers, DeSantis commented on the state of border security and a pending repeal of Title 42 by the Biden administration.
“Since Biden has become president, I think almost 2.5 million people have illegally crossed the southern border,” DeSantis said. “What does that mean in terms of the quality of life for Americans? Well, we’ve know we’ve seen record human trafficking, sex trafficking, and drug trafficking. Such that now, the number one cause of death for people 18 to 45 in the United States of America is fentanyl overdose. They may be making it in China but they are bringing it all right across the southern border because of what he’s doing. Now, even as bad as those numbers are, that has all been done with this Title 42 in place, that was a legacy from the Trump administration. Where they are at least turning away some folks when they are trying to come in illegally. When they open that you’re going to see a major flood of people going across the southern border. We’ve taken action, I sent people last year from Florida to help Texas. The problem was, they’d be capturing people who’d be coming illegally, they’d just walk right across.”
DeSantis said federal agents would just “release them anyways” and that they should put them back instead, which is why the state sued the Biden administration over their “catch and release” policy. He said he’d be signing a recent piece of legislation in Florida targeting companies that transport illegal migrants.
“I have, I got money from the Legislature which will be available starting in June, so that if Biden is bussing illegal aliens into our state, we’re taking those buses and rerouting them to Delaware and other jurisdictions,” DeSantis said.
Then, he criticized Biden’s performance as president directly, accusing him of violating his oath of office.
“I just think it’s unbelievable the failure at the southern border. The thing is, he took an oath, Biden, to support and defend the Constitution, to take care that the laws are faithfully executed,” DeSantis said. “He is violating his own oath of office by allowing massive numbers of people to come across the border illegally. Those border communities are just getting killed down there in southern Texas with everything coming in. Honestly, Biden should be given an honorary membership in the Mexican drug cartels because nobody has done more to help the cartels than Biden with his open border policies.”
DeSantis said if Title 42 is repealed, it would be a “disaster” and that the state was doing what it could to protect Floridians, saying that the states should be able to handle the border instead of the federal government.
“Honestly, they should just let the states handle the border, I would send people to do that if we were able to prevent people from coming and actually send them back,” DeSantis said. “But Texas isn’t doing that.” He said Florida would help in the effort if it did happen.
WFLA.com has reached out to both the White House and the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for response to Gov. DeSantis’ comments. We have not yet received a response.