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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘Stay the course’: DeSantis delivers 2024 State of the State address

The governor will not be present for most of the 2024 Florida legislative session.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered the State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 9. A joint session of the Florida legislature received his remarks in the House of Representatives Chamber. 

Starting off 2024, DeSantis referenced measures passed by the Florida legislature in past years, expressing his intention to continue on a similar trajectory going forward. 

These issues included the approved six-week abortion ban and the loosening of firearm restrictions through initiatives like the “Constitutional Carry” bill. 

Additionally, he expressed the need for the continued prevention and removal of undocumented immigrants but did not introduce any changes or initiatives regarding Florida immigration laws. Deaths have resulted from fentanyl trafficked across the southern border, which the state legislature plans to continue combating, he said. 

“My message is simple: stay the course,” DeSantis said in the address. 

Following a series of initiatives that enacted sweeping changes on the Florida education system, DeSantis said continuing the protection of parental rights is paramount in 2024. These measures included the “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibiting discussion of sexuality and sexual orientation in K-12 schools along with the Curriculum Transparency Act that sparked the removal of certain books deemed inappropriate from school libraries. 

“We have protected our children from indoctrination and sexualization of the curriculum,” he said in the address, “and we stood up for parents against the woke mob.” 

Additionally, $1.25 billion of the 2024 budget proposal will be allocated to raising teacher pay, DeSantis said. 

House Bill 999 passed in 2023 limited funding to diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida higher education institutions. DeSantis expressed the need to further eliminate DEI programs, an acronym he said stands for “discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination.” 

In the wake of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, he said the state legislature will continue to fight antisemitism by welcoming Jewish students transferring to Florida universities. Minimum credit hour requirements and transfer application deadlines will be waived, and in-state tuition will be assessed to students with financial hardship, he said. 

In response to skyrocketing insurance rates, DeSantis advocated for tax relief to reduce costs for homeowners. The allocation of $1.1 billion in tax cuts will provide relief to families, individuals and retirees, he said. 

DeSantis said an additional $20 million will be dedicated to providing signing bonuses for law enforcement officers transferring to Florida in 2024. The Hometown Heroes program established in 2022 will also continue to help officers and other essential personnel, including nurses and teachers, afford the cost of a home, he said.  

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At least four major hurricanes have made landfall in Florida since 2017, causing long-lasting damage in their aftermath. Those affected by these natural disasters have gotten assistance from the Florida Disaster Fund and will continue to receive that help, DeSantis said.

“We still remain focused on the long-term recovery that is still going on in southwest Florida after hurricane Ian,” he said in the address. 

Environmental protection will also remain a priority this year, he said, proposing $1.1 billion of state funds be directed toward Everglades and water quality restoration projects as well as $125 million to protect Florida’s conservation lands and waterways. 

Addressing state debt is an issue of importance moving into 2024, according to DeSantis. He said he plans to reduce the state budget by $4 billion from last year, which would place $16.3 billion in reserves and relieve $455 million in state debt.

“Let’s enact policies that focus on Florida’s future and that keep faith with our nation’s founding ideals,” he said. 

DeSantis is a Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential primary election, slated to share his ideals for the nation during the Iowa Caucus beginning Jan. 15. He will not be in attendance for most of Florida’s 2024 legislative session due to his presidential campaign. 

Contact Rylan DiGiacomo-Rapp at rdigiacomo-rapp@alligator.org. Follow her on X @rylan_digirapp.

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Rylan DiGiacomo-Rapp

Rylan DiGiacomo-Rapp is a second-year journalism and environmental science major covering enterprise politics. She previously worked as a metro news assistant. Outside of the newsroom, you can usually find her haunting local music venues.


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