DeSantis on FL’s 2023 legislative session: ‘We’re getting all the meat off the bone’
Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared during a news conference in Panama City on May 4, 2023. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook
Gov. Ron DeSantis pronounced himself well pleased Thursday with the Florida Legislature’s embrace of his agenda during its 2023 regular session, which still had another day to run.
“We’ve delivered, and delivered in a really, really big way. And it’s been a lot of work. These guys, the Legislature, have worked incredibly hard and we’ve worked hard in our office to make sure this is teed up,” the governor said during a news conference in Panama City.
“Normally, the last week of session it’s, like, frantic, and, like, I’m on the phone haggling with like, oh, can we do?” he said.
“We’re not having to do that. We’re all on the same page. Everything’s kinda been locked and loaded and it’s just bringing everything in for a nice, smooth landing. And so, it’s a good feeling.”
DeSantis pointed to legislation passed since his relection, whether in special session or during the past 59 days, on insurance, Hurricane Ian response, elections, Disney’s special district, turnpike toll relief, school vouchers, “woke” investing, and more. All bills he pushed and that the Legislature went along with.
Also, “We made sure that these illegal aliens, we can transport if we need to. And that’s not just Martha’s Vineyard but it could include Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.
Republican lawmakers have to do what DeSantis wants because of the clout he amassed in this overwhelming reelection win, which also swept GOP supermajorities into power in each chamber. Certainly, they share ideological sympathies with the governor, who’s been waging an open but not yet formally declared run for the GOP’s presidential nomination.
But as DeSantis has pushed lawmakers to tackle one divisive social issue after another, including a massive backlash against transgender people, cracks in unity have begun to emerge, if not in the open.
“People are deeply frustrated,” former state Sen. Jeff Brandes told Politico Florida. “They are not spending any time on the right problems. … Most legislators believe that the balance of power has shifted too far and the Legislature needs to re-establish itself as a coequal branch of government.”
DeSantis was in the resort town to announce that the state was extending the red snapper fishing season this year to 70 days. After that, he indulged in a review of his accomplishments during the session.
“I remember saying when I became governor, the first day, sat in the office, I kinda just looked around and I thought to myself, ‘You know, I don’t know what SOB is gonna succeed me in this office but they ain’t gonna have much to do because we’re getting all the meat off the bone.’ And we’re doing that.”
“So many people just didn’t understand that you win an election and you need to do something with what you’ve done, and that that should have been my focus, and that has been my focus,” DeSantis said.
“And I think, of the things that we said we were gonna do, I don’t think there’s anything that we haven’t done, and I think that we actually did even more than, certainly, we’ve done even more than we even promised in the campaign.”
DeSantis declined to be drawn into commenting on the Legislature’s $117 billion proposed budget —which the House and Senate planned to begin debating on the floor on Thursday and vote final passage on Friday — and whether he sees any items begging for vetoes.
“You’re just going to have to stay tuned on all of this. You know, you’ll get there one way or another very soon,” he said. “I’m not going to short circuit any of the good work that we’ve done. I mean, we want to make sure we’re thorough about doing that [scrutinizing budget line items].”
He noted that last year he vetoed items worth $3.3 billion.
“But that generated the largest budget surplus in the history of the state of Florida. So, now we’re in a situation where we still have a large surplus — not as large as last year because we’re doing massive tax cuts and we’re doing a lot of infrastructure to accelerate things that we need, which I think is smart. But if there are things that aren’t necessary, then you got to lean in on that.”
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