‘… you ain’t seen nothing yet’
Count us among those who have nothing but kudos to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his efforts for Southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
He was not only here, he was here often.
He put both money and effort into the repair of critical infrastructure like the Matlacha bridge and the Sanibel Causeway to get us on the road to recovery much quicker than anyone expected.
In miracle time, in fact: Two days for the bridge leading to Pine Island, just over two weeks for the thrice-breached causeway leading to Sanibel and Captiva.
He not only jabbed the feds on FEMA’s temporary housing rules but rallied state efforts to get temporary housing for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
But count us also among those who have done more than an eye roll or two over some of his more, shall we say, political initiatives as he wades into presidential currents as fraught with below-the-surface debris as the post-storm waters off Fort Myers Beach.
It’s hard to be a beacon high on the cliffs of the current political divide but, like his efforts in the wake of one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the United States, he’s giving it his all as his State of the State address on Tuesday attests.
Opening with a term from his military background — a lieutenant commander in U.S. Navy, Gov. DeSantis served as in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a prosecutor and deployed to Iraq with special operations duty — he gave Floridians the Bottom Line Up Front.
“Florida is number one and working together we will ensure that Florida remains the number one state in these United States.
“Florida is the fastest growing state in the nation.
“We rank number one for net in-migration.
“We rank number one in the nation for new business formations.
“We are number one in economic growth among large states.
“Florida has more people employed today than before the pandemic. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest on record and it is significantly lower than the national average.
“And of course, as many of you know in this room, the last two years we’ve seen the largest budget surpluses in the history of the state of Florida.
“And we do that with having the lowest per capita state tax and lowest per capita state debt burdens amongst all large states.
“We rank number one in the nation in tourism and we just experienced yet another record-breaking year for visitors to the Sunshine State.
“We are number one in law enforcement recruitment and support. Florida’s crime rate stands at a 50-year low.
“We rank number one in the nation for education freedom.
“We rank number one in the nation for parental involvement in education.
“We rank number one in fourth grade reading and math amongst all large states.
“And we have the number one public higher education system in the country.
“We are number one among large states for the quality of our roads.
“And Florida has the top three cruise ports in the entire world. We rank number one for space-related development, manufacturing, and flight.”
“And, maybe most famously, we rank number one for protections of our citizens against the biomedical security state, from prohibiting ‘jab or job’ mandates to banning vaccine passports to ensuring hospital visitation rights,” Gov. DeSantis said.
“We defied the experts, we buck the elites, we ignored the chatter, we did it our way, the Florida way. And the result is that we are the number one destination for our fellow Americans who are looking for a better life.”
And the heart of the address — the introduction of real people from around Florida to put a face on state programs, goals and initiatives including tougher penalties for drug dealers, especially for those who target children; enforcement of immigration laws; and support for law enforcement including a bail system “conducive to public safety” and constitutional carry:
Stephen Soloway, a Pine Island business owner who brought supplies in to his neighbors by boat immediately after Ian. He called the reopening of the bridge “a Godsend.”
Julie Wappes, a fourth grade teacher at the Sanibel School who lost everything in her home and in her classroom and is now happy the school has now re-opened.
Lee Countian Barbara Morgan, whose storm-damaged home was unliveable. She could not get a FEMA trailer but received one through the state program created to help people like her live on their property while they repair their homes.
Cape Coral Police Department Officer Mercedes Phillips, who received a $5,000 signing bonus to join the agency, one of many such incentives awarded throughout the state to help departments hire the additional officers they need.
Tax breaks ($2 billion in cuts); boosts to education, including workforce training and programs for teachers, nurses and law enforcement; environmental stewardship including water quality initiatives; crime (tough on and getting tougher) and issues along the political precipice — school choice, parents’ rights and the nexus of “political indoctrination;” illegal immigration; vax mandates and “permanent protection from medical authoritarianism;” medical treatment for transgender minors summed up with “our children are not guinea pigs for science experimentation and we cannot allow people to make money off mutilating them.”
Love him, like him, or dub his Free Florida policies as free-dum, Gov. DeSantis will unapologetically tell you where he stands.
His State of the State close:
“So we find ourselves in Florida on the front lines in the battle for freedom.
“Together we have made Florida the nation’s most desired destination and we have produced historic results.
“But now’s not the time to rest on our laurels.
“We have the opportunity and indeed the responsibility to swing for the fences so that we can ensure Florida remains number one.
“Don’t worry about the chattering class.
“Ignore all the background noise.
“Keep the compass set to true north.
“We will stand strong.
“We will hold the line.
“We won’t back down.
“And I can promise you this, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Thank you all. God bless you.”
— Breeze editorial