Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered the State of the State address at the beginning of the 2024 Legislative Session Tuesday, where he pointed to Florida serving as a “refuge for freedom and sanity” in the U.S.
“My message is simple: Stay the course,” the governor said. “The state of our state is strong. Let’s keep doing what works. Let’s continue to make Florida the envy of the nation.”
DeSantis said America is in the “midst of a great upheaval.”
The governor pointed to other states that have enacted policies, which he said “sparked an exodus of residents out of their states.”
“It is not surprising that we have witnessed – and continue to witness – a great migration of Americans away from cities and states pursuing these failed policies, with Florida serving as a refuge for freedom and sanity,” DeSantis said.
He said under President Joe Biden’s administration, homelessness is at record levels, 62% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and the federal budget deficit is expected to hit $2 trillion this year.
More than eight million illegal aliens have entered the U.S. across the southern border in the past three years alone, DeSantis said. He also said deaths due to fentanyl that have come across the border have reached record levels.
“The failures are not a result of chance but of choices made by elected officials to put ideology over sound policy,” the governor said.
DeSantis said as a result of the choices of Florida, the state holds number one in the country in education, education freedom, parental involvement in education, talent development, higher education, net domestic in-migration for the third consecutive year, new business formation, GDP growth among large states, and “better than most countries in the world,” and number one in entrepreneurship.
“In this time for choosing, the state of Florida has chosen well,” DeSantis said.
“We have chosen facts over fear,” he continued. “We have chosen education over indoctrination. We have chosen law and order over rioting and disorder. We have chosen fiscal responsibility over debt and prophecy. Our choices have produced results that are second to none in this country.”
DeSantis said Florida has “set the standard for limited government.” He said Florida has the fewest state employees per capita and the lowest state government cost per capita.
He also pointed to the state’s crime rate being at a 50-year low and Florida holding the lowest unemployment rate of all large states.
The governor said that under the leadership of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, during the 2023 Legislative Session, Florida has enacted the “largest expansion of school choice in American history.”
“We protected women’s sports – as the father of two daughters I think it is important that they have the opportunity to compete with fairness and integrity,” DeSantis said. “We protected our children from indoctrination and sexualized curriculum, and we stood up for parents against the woke mob.”
DeSantis pointed to the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel on Oct. 7. The governor signed an executive order that allowed the state to carry out rescue operations for Americans stranded in Israel following Hamas’ attacks.
DeSantis also signed a bill to increase state sanctions against Iran in light of the country’s ties to the terrorist organization Hamas.
The governor said this week, Jewish students across the country are returning to campuses that have “condoned antisemitism.”
“Over the coming months, they will have a tough decision to make – pack up and leave or stay and endure continued hatred – and if they do decide to come to Florida, we will welcome them with open arms,” DeSantis said.
He said Florida will welcome out-of-state Jewish students by waiving minimum credit hour requirements for transfers, waiving application deadlines for transfers, and encouraging universities and colleges to use their existing statutory authority to provide in-state tuition for students with a financial hardship.
“The pro-Hamas activities and rampant antisemitism on college campuses exposed the intellectual rot that has developed on so many college campuses,” DeSantis said.
The governor said in Florida, universities “must be dedicated to the pursuit of truth.”
“We reject the modern trend of universities that subordinate high academic standards in favor of promoting an ideological agenda,” DeSantis said.
Florida has eliminated diversity, equity and inclusion requirements from public universities, the governor boasted.
“DEI is a highly-ideological agenda – in practice it stands for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination – and it has no place in our public universities,” DeSantis said.