TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is touting "Florida's fiscal health" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis spoke about the state's 2021 financial outlook Thursday morning while reflecting on the hardships of 2020, but the Republican governor remained steadfast in his position that Florida's approach to the COVID-19 crisis was the right one.
"Florida also led and continues to lead on protecting the livelihoods of our people," DeSantis said. "While so many other states kept locking people down, Florida lifted people up. We believe every job is essential. If you work in a restaurant, we have your back. If you are a hair stylist, we protect your right to earn a living, and if you are a parent, we ensure that your kids have the right to attend school in person. Lockdowns do not work. School closures have been disastrous. Yet even today, we see across our country businesses shuttered, lives ruined and schools closed. Indeed, in major parts of the country, students might not return to in-person instruction until the fall. Florida schools are open, every Floridian has a right to work, all businesses have a right to operate and Florida is better for it."
SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus
DeSantis said his proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year "puts Florida on solid financial footing with $6.6 billion in total reserves, including $2.2 billion in unallocated general revenue to ensure that our state's economic viability endures."
The governor acknowledged the challenges in the classroom since the onset of the pandemic but said it was important that parents have a choice when it comes to in-person learning.
"We wanted to stand by all families and make sure that they had the right to be able to do that," DeSantis said.
DeSantis spoke of "fear-mongering" experts who criticized the decision at the time.
"Now, pretty much everyone acknowledges the evidence," DeSantis said. "Very few people would really dispute that kids should be in school in person."