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Sen. Audrey Gibson


2019 Session Opening Day: Audrey Gibson sees ‘ominous signs’ in State of the State speech

Gibson outlined the Democratic Senate agenda for the next 60 days.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Democratic caucus, responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ first State of the State address Tuesday.

As expected, she had concerns.

While Gibson lauded DeSantis’ focus on environmental issues and what the Governor called “high-quality education,” she added that “ominous signs that are rising, signaling that his proposed solutions really aren’t new at all.”

Gibson urged that the Governor commit state resources to septic tank mitigation, with a “long range statewide plan with sufficient funding” rather than piecemeal grants to local and state governments.

Gibson also noted that Democrats see “high-quality education” differently than DeSantis and the charter school advocates in his orbit.

“Using positive terminology like ‘family empowerment,’ and then moving thousands of students out of their neighborhood school and into a voucher system while building privately run charter schools in the same economically depressed areas that have been deliberately left behind is a bait and switch scheme our children and families do not deserve,” Gibson said.

On the subject of public schools, Gibson also asserted opposition to arming teachers.

Another priority certain to be a non-starter with Republicans: Medicaid expansion.

“In January, Governor DeSantis said he wants to ‘create better health-care options that put consumers first,’ address opioid addiction and fund meaningful mental health care,” Gibson noted.

“These goals could be largely accomplished by a single act: expanding Medicaid in Florida. But the Governor refuses to consider it while nearly a million languish with no place to go for their health needs except the emergency room,” Gibson added.

“Governor DeSantis likes to use the word ‘bold’,” Gibson said. “But being ‘bold’ means unafraid to break the rules, to defy convention,and to buck any system that leaves any Floridian behind.”

“How ‘bold’ is it to pack the Supreme Court, the last place individuals seeking justice can turn to with people who all think the same and rubber stamp each other’s pre-conceived thoughts How “bold” is it to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment over sanctuary cities that don’t even exist in Florida?”

DeSantis, despite there being no sanctuary jurisdictions in the state, is pushing for a ban on them.

With Gibson being from Jacksonville, and DeSantis having strong Jacksonville ties, it will be interesting to see if she is able to push the policy debate from the other party.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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