WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis touted Florida's accomplishments Friday during a news conference in West Palm Beach that seemed more like a campaign appearance.
Speaking at Retro Fitness on Belvedere Road, the governor compared Florida's budget to other states.
"The closest state to us population-wise is New York," DeSantis said. "They have 3 million people fewer than we do. Their budget is over twice the size of our budget. Now they don't have better roads or services or education or any of that. But they definitely have way more. So we're now about six weeks to go in this current fiscal year and we can report definitively, you know, the state of Florida for fiscal year '21-22 will have, by far, the largest budget surplus in the history of our state."
DeSantis celebrated Florida's increase in jobs and low unemployment numbers during April.
"So we also this morning announced the jobs report for the state of Florida for the month of April. And so in April alone, Florida added another 57,000 jobs. And so that's an increase of 0.7%, which is twice the rate of increase of the nation as a whole," DeSantis said. "Our unemployment rate in the state of Florida is now 3%, which is far below the national average of 3.6%, and our unemployment rate has been lower than the national average for 17 consecutive months."
DeSantis also spoke about how well Florida's tourism numbers have improved over the last few years.
"Between January and March of this year we had 36 million visitors," DeSantis said. "That's far above our 2019 levels, so we're recovered and then some. And part of it was being open, but part of it was also proactive steps that we took to protect people's quality of life. For example, in early 2021, I think we were the first state in the country to ban vaccine passports in our state. I can tell you one of the reasons why we've done so well is because people can come here and you can go where you want, do what you want. You're not gonna get shaken down to produce medical papers at the front door of a restaurant. People don't want to do that."
DeSantis was joined by several owners of South Florida businesses and their employees who thanked the governor for his policies and credited him for the ability of their businesses to flourish.