‘Freedom works’: Ron DeSantis mocks COVID-19 restrictions, bashes feds on economy, immigration
Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis
Democrats accused DeSantis of stoking fear ahead of this year’s election.

In his State of the State address Tuesday in the Capitol, Gov. Ron DeSantis laid out a red-meat 2022 legislative agenda on crime and immigration, and he ridiculed COVID-19 restrictions in other states as ineffective and anti-American.

DeSantis, a Republican who is seeking a second term in November and hasn’t ruled out a White House bid in 2024, called Florida the “freest state” in the U.S.

“Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions,” he told a packed and largely maskless House chamber in Tallahassee during his 33-minute address.

DeSantis said school closures have been reckless, politically motivated and hurt students, and he cited job losses the governor blamed on mandates that he complained have denied Americans freedom because of a “coercive biomedical apparatus.”

These policies, DeSantis said, are grounded in “blind adherence to ‘Faucian’ declarations,” a reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and formerly a top adviser to Presidents since 1984, including President Donald Trump.

In December, DeSantis’ campaign emailed a fundraising plea for Fauci to be jailed for what DeSantis said was misleading testimony to Congress.

Democrats accused DeSantis of stoking fear ahead of this year’s election.

In Florida, the Governor said the state has fought back against what he called unconstitutional restrictions, protected citizens’ right to earn a living wage, given businesses the ability to prosper and ensured kids have an opportunity to thrive.

DeSantis said his legislative agenda this coming year includes:

— Temporary relief from the state’s gas tax with a $1 billion tax holiday.

— Additional bonuses for teachers to raise K-12 teacher salaries to $47,000.

— Creation an election integrity unit to root out alleged fraud, though DeSantis has praised how well Florida managed its 2020 elections.

— Freeze of public college and university tuition, and preservation of Bright Futures scholarships.

— Elimination of the Florida Standards Assessments tests for students.

— Pay bonuses for Florida law enforcement.

— A crackdown on technology companies from profiting off users’ data.

— Strengthening anti-abortion laws and gun rights.

The Governor’s proposed budget, the “Freedom First Budget,” amounted to $99.7 billion, paid for partly with a windfall from the federal government. He noted more than $15 billion in reserve, a historically large surplus.

Included in the budget proposal is $22 million for COVID-19 response efforts. DeSantis said the country is facing economic problems that stem from “reckless federal policies,” and he blamed Washington for rising inflation that he said takes money out of the pockets of Florida families.

In their official response to the Governor’s speech, Democrats noted that more than 60,000 people in Florida have died from COVID-19.

“What we don’t need is to create more fake boogeymen,” said Hollywood Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne. “There’s already enough fear and anger in our society, we don’t need our elected leaders making it worse.”

Jenne added: “We don’t need the third-largest state in America to devote its entire legislative session to making sacrifices at the altar of political ambition for any one individual.”

DeSantis said his proposed gas tax holiday would help economically strapped residents, although he did not offer details of the program.

“If Washington, D.C., won’t change course,” the Governor said, “then we have a responsibility to step up on behalf of Floridians.”

He also said that because of his decision not to lock down the state during the coronavirus, Florida is leading the nation in new business creation, which has increased by 61% since 2019, according to the governor. DeSantis noted that in 2021, Florida saw 114,000 more new businesses than California, despite it having a population that is substantially larger.

“Freedom works,” DeSantis said. “Our economy is the envy of the nation. And the state is well-prepared to withstand future economic turmoil.”

The Governor also criticized the federal government’s handling of immigration, which he referred to as “lawless open-border policies,” and he proposed measures to stop federal agencies from flying in immigrants illegally in the U.S. to Florida. DeSantis said they should be rerouted to what he described as sanctuary states.

DeSantis said another priority is law enforcement. His spending plan recommends $453.1 million in pay increases for state law enforcement officers and others.

“Serving in law enforcement is a noble calling and we will not allow our officers to be smeared by reckless politicians and corporate media,” DeSantis said.

He derided “soft on crime prosecutors,” saying, “Florida is a law-and-order state.”

DeSantis also recognized his wife, Casey DeSantis, who was in the visitors’ gallery. Like most in the chamber, she was not wearing a mask. She is recovering from breast cancer after being diagnosed in October. DeSantis said he was accompanying her after Christmas to her cancer therapy. He predicted she will be cancer-free by the end of the year.

DeSantis noted the Surfside condominium collapse last June and praised first responders and recognized family members of one victim who attended the speech. He said Florida should fund a memorial, but he offered no plans for preventing another such tragedy.

In November, DeSantis will run for re-election as governor against one of three candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Rep. Charlie Crist and Miami Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo.

Fried, in an interview, said DeSantis is forcing his own beliefs on the people of Florida, and is not being transparent enough to Floridians about his plans for the years to come.

“His attempts to run for President of the United States means that he no longer is caring about the people,” she said. “He wants to use the people of our state as his own tools to get to the White House, and it’s really up to the people of the state to stop him.”

DeSantis did not mention Biden or Trump in his remarks.

Kristin Bausch reporting; produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected].

Fresh Take Florida


  • tjb

    January 12, 2022 at 8:07 am

    Why aren’t women FREE to have abortions within a reasonable time period?

    • Ron Ogden

      January 12, 2022 at 8:25 am

      Because the helpless die, and they die horrible deaths. We’re human beings. We don’t approve of the helpless being burned to death with chemicals or chopped apart with tools. At least I don’t. You?

      • Concern citizens

        January 12, 2022 at 9:05 am

        62,800 Floridians have lost their lives to Covid. How many of these deaths could have been prevented if DeSantis had better policies toward the prevention of Covid?
        He will blame people such as President Biden and Dr. Fauci for not doing enough but he will NOT support their attempts to prevent the spread of Covid. If anything, he is creating barriers with lies and misinformation that run contrary to their attempts to stop Covid.
        The cry of “Give Me Liberty (freedom) Or Give Me Death” has taken on a new meaning in Florida.

        • Impeach Biden

          January 12, 2022 at 9:55 am

          So this is where I point out that California has over 77k deaths from Covid. Next you and the blowhard Alex will say the per capita is higher in Florida. When the Congress and Senate go Republican in 2022, Fauci, the Democrat will announce his retirement.. good riddance to that flip flopper.

          • Alex

            January 12, 2022 at 2:44 pm


            Stupid still doesn’t get that math stuff, and then babbles unrelated BS.

      • Alex

        January 12, 2022 at 2:56 pm


        You’re a hypocrite and you don’t know why.

    • Alex

      January 12, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      Freedom is only for angry old ignorant white men.

      I think they like to refer to themselves as Real Americans, but I don’t speak moron.

  • Concern citizens

    January 12, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Impeach — -we are talking about Florida, not California. Also, I will take the advice of Dr. Fauci over DeSantis. What medical schools did DeSantis go to?

    • Brian Brady

      January 12, 2022 at 2:10 pm

      That’s the wrong question, The right question should be “From which law school did Anthony Fauci graduate”?

      The answer is, of course, none.

      Medical decisions should be made with the advice of your physician but laws, restricting movement and daily life, really are best passed, interpreted, and judged by people with law degrees.

      Nota Bene: Gov DeSantis graduated Harvard Law School

      • Alex

        January 12, 2022 at 3:28 pm

        I love idiotic nonsense about Fauci!

        More please!

        • Impeach Biden

          January 12, 2022 at 4:38 pm

          It is really funny watching the blow hard, Alex, come apart at the seams. Deep down he knows that DeSantis is a shoe in for re-election as Governor of Florida and maybe one day might be the President of the USA. You and the citizen would certainly vote for that goofball Gillum once again and who is your rising star for President? A member of the squad? Hilarious. Alex you must be on some sort of welfare program as you are simply too stupid to function in the real world.

          • Alex

            January 12, 2022 at 5:15 pm

            What was DeUselesses winning margin again?

            40%, 4%, or .4%?

            I forgot.

          • Tom

            January 12, 2022 at 7:51 pm

            33,000 votes, .4%. Was the margin.
            It’s common knowledge that minorities abandoned Gillium over public school scholarships. 44% Hispanics and 18% African Americans voted for and made the difference. He expanded it, kept pledge.
            Alex, you really want to defend and rerun Gillium? Get your ass kicked, Fraud too. Crisp no chance. Smack down 2022.

      • Tom

        January 12, 2022 at 5:02 pm

        Brian, welcome board.
        You can’t talk common sense with the Manchurian Dems.
        DeSantis is America’s Governor!
        DeSantis busts their balls as he’s Yale & Harvard educated.
        They hate him.

        • Tom

          January 12, 2022 at 7:56 pm

          .4%, 33,000 votes! 44%Hispanics, 18% black. Scholarship vote was the difference. Alex, it’s a loser topic to bring up!

  • Concern Citizen

    January 12, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    Brian, Dr.Fauci does not make policy he only gives advice. He is not making the decision. Also, just because a person graduated from Harvard does not make them morally correct.

    • Alex

      January 12, 2022 at 4:31 pm

      Bu bu but Hannity and Tucker Carlson BOTH said so!

    • Tom

      January 12, 2022 at 4:56 pm

      Fauci: over 800,000 perished Covid.
      Liar, he unilaterally applies policy, illegally,
      Biden: over 400,000 perished Covid.
      No clue, has bungled Covid relief. No new tests, no new Monoclonals. Billions wasted.
      Just a disaster. Grade F.

      • Tom’s Mother

        January 12, 2022 at 5:51 pm

        Tom, please take your meds. You are embarrassing me again. You Dad was right. I should have aborted you in my 14th week of my pregnancy. Now go to bed and please don’t wet your bed my little imbecile. Love Mom

        • Tom

          January 12, 2022 at 6:38 pm

          How’s that animal you are having sex with you degenerate. That’s all you got you degenerate. No effect. My mothers been deceased for 20 years loser. Pathetic pig.

    • Tom

      January 14, 2022 at 8:05 am

      That’s a lie, Fauci has unilaterally without legislative approval made policy. Ignorant non concerned citizen and socialist Alex are racists. Fauci is also the chief science policy advisor to dumbbell potus. Harris, Biden aRe a joke. Total cluster. They’ve totally accomplished nothing in past year. They were provided vaccines, therapeutics , tests and accomplished nothing. Haven’t even ordered.

      Fauci: Over 850,000 perished Covid.
      Biden: Over 450,000 perished Covid.
      How do you Manchurian s like it now!
      You love to dish it out.
      Independents abandoning Biden, Harris. Hispanics have abandoned Biden/Harris. Dems are abandoning Biden/Harris. Harris had a meltdown over nbc Melvin interview. What a joke. LMAO,

  • Real American

    January 12, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    The guy who runs this site is a shitlib BlueAnon hack, just take one look at his Twitter.

    • Alex

      January 12, 2022 at 5:12 pm

      I’m curious.

      What makes you a real american?

  • Tom

    January 12, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    Latest Quinnipiac Dem liberal stalwart poll, has POTUS approval at 33%. Abysmal.
    Independents approval at 25%. Atrocious,
    Biden, is in horrendous territory,
    Extrapolate those numbers means, 60 plus House seats flip to GOP. Shellacking.
    Gov Ron wins bigly! Biden is negative in Florida,
    Hey peter h you loser, how you like Biden now!
    Lincoln Org won’t be able to help any Dem.
    Manchurian losers will suffer a major shellacking. Enjoy!

  • Kelly

    January 14, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    Us Floridians need to come together and use whatever resources available to us in order to gather any and all information regarding DeSantis, regeneron, conflicts of interest, donor links, lack of transparency, and the never-ending bills and laws to give parents who support him the ability to pick and choose what should be taught in school and what books should be available even suggesting listening in on teachers. Using taxpayer or whatever other funds he gets from the federal government that he claims he hates so much, to file lawsuits and defend himself against lawsuits, it would be lovely if there were documentation or paper trail proving or disproving that he actually tried to give these tests that no one wanted.. who did he ask cuz I never heard him going on national television in the beginning of December making a statement saying hey we have a million covid tests if anybody wants them please call us we’ll give them to you.. he claims the tests are not the at-home tests but are we supposed to take his word for it? He needs to show the people that these tests were indeed rejected he indeed went out and tried relentlessly from May until December to give them away. He claims government shouldnt tell people how to live their lives, that parents and people have the right to choose to wear a mask or whatnot, but yet he imposes restrictions and tells people how to live their lives, how to run their business and protect themselves. And also I said earlier, he’s giving the power of parents to dictate what books are available to classrooms. At the same time on top of that the freest state in the country he’s already preemptedly written a bill to restrict women’s rights or any rights of the HOMOSEXUALS OR TRANS INDIVIDUALS, people of color and poor communities, cutting off much needed funding for those just trying to live and get by with the little amount of money that they get while also fighting inflation. Rick Scott stole from Medicare and he was elected to Senate not even held accountable, DeSantis is blatantly lying to the public about science and brings in his surgeon general who’s a quack… And knows nothing.. his spokesperson people straight up lied and said that those million tests that were about to expire was not true only to backpedal but still say in a way it’s none of our business. Disappears for 2 weeks to take care of his wife, I feel for his wife, but there’s virtual press conferences he can make a statement if he can’t handle that and take care of Florida which he was elected apparently to do and he needs to focus on his family. I wish and I’m sure a lot of Us wish that we had the opportunity to be able to take care of our loved ones or get treatment or surgeries that were basically shut down because of the overrun of hospitals because of unvaccinated people. Love how they blame the vaccinated and the hysteria of those creating hospital surges. It’s like don’t get the vaccine don’t wear masks don’t get tested but if you get sick come to my buddy and his company who does antibody treatment for you know $5,000 and doesn’t explain who’s going to pay for that. Where is this money for this treatment going to come from. I can go on I’m just so angry with these Republican voters and these people who should no better voting for these monsters promoting hate, claiming freedom while denying the same freedom to others. Harassing and assaulting students children school boards and anyone and everyone if they’re seen wearing a mask or they’re told or asked to wear a mask they just rip them off their face. These anti woke bills the governor put out there.. he’s so against science then his wife needed not be treated for chemo or tested for anything or anybody associated with him but I guarantee if somebody that was tested positive came near his children or child or wife or whatever unmasked he would be singing a different tune. He hates the federal government he’s always suing the federal government for anything and everything but yet he expects special treatment from the federal government always requesting stuff from the federal government getting funds from the federal government for infrastructure and so forth while claiming it’s somehow from DeSantis. If that’s the case then he needs to put his money where his mouth is and reject any and all federal government aid money grants or anything… And see how far he goes.. see how quick everyone will turn on him.. but this is Florida they elected thieving Rick Scott.. Republicans have touted Florida’s the model for voting most secure voting ever, refuse to do an audit because maybe something will show up that he will not like, but also creating restrictive voting laws.. I’m not a parent I am 100% VA disabled and I don’t know where or how to get information and I hope organizations are trying to do that. I’m sorry that was the longest freaking comment ever.. but I have a suspicion he is tied to some nefarious illegal stuff like Trump but more careful. Every penny he spends needs to be allowed to see the public arena. Where the money came from and what is spent on.. how much was spent on legal defenses and how much money did he get in kickbacks. I hope Nikki fried destroys him.. I hope he loses everything with the exception of his wife child or things like that. He loses reelection his wife thankfully beats breast cancer divorces him and then we all sue for mental anguish intentional harm and hopefully never hear from him again him and his little buddy Trump can ride off into the sunset ..Thelma and Louise style.

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