While conservatives might have suffered through 2021 without former President Donald Trump in the White House, the year did unveil to America a silver lining: Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a lot in common with Trump including the former president’s penchant for getting big things done.
Despite the challenges before him, DeSantis enjoyed a banner year in 2021, continuing his overhaul in Florida making it the nation’s model “free state.”
This is not mere political bloviating either, but facts backed by data.
Newsmax looked at DeSantis' record during last year and identified six achievements that helped make Florida great again.
Here’s DeSantis’ six major achievements for 2021:
1. Florida No. 1 in Migration, Population Growth
Florida was the top state in the country for population growth through migration, both foreign and domestic.
Census Bureau data showed 220,890 people moved to Florida from other states, Washington, D.C, or Puerto Rico, making it the nation's top destination for domestic migration. The Sunshine State's population also added 38,590 immigrants, the most in the nation.
Americans and immigrants were drawn to a DeSantis-led state that is devoid of state income tax, enjoys Trump-like deregulation, and a less restrictive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Kept Florida Free, Open, While Reducing COVID
DeSantis is able to boast the fruits of his labor in the freest state in the union.
Among his execution actions were bans to mask mandates in schools and businesses and fighting the Biden administration's attempts to impose vaccine mandates on residents of his state and travelers, including those seeking to sail on cruises out of Florida's popular ports.
Even amid vitriol from Democrats, President Joe Biden, and liberal activist media, DeSantis was able to hail the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the nation in October.
"Without mandates or lockdowns, COVID-19 cases in Florida have decreased 90% since August," DeSantis wrote in an October statement. "In addition to cases, hospitalizations have plummeted in our state. This has been accomplished by making monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccines widely available throughout our state while protecting Floridians from government overreach."
While Biden and Democrat governors keep trying to fight a losing battle against stopping the spread of COVID-19, DeSantis was on the cutting edge of focusing first and foremost on treatments against the inevitability of contracting this coronavirus.
The Biden administration even attempted to move against the novel response to help save the lives of Floridians, but DeSantis made a counter move to continue to deliver the treatments.
"There is no doubt that many lives have been saved as a result of making these treatments widely available," DeSantis wrote in an October statement. "Recently, the Biden administration decided to severely cut the amount of Regeneron monoclonal antibodies being sent to Florida and other disfavored states.
"That was concerning because there was a significant demand for the treatments and we wanted to make sure that if folks needed it, they were able to get it. I looked to see what other options were available for Florida. There was another very effective monoclonal antibody treatment called Sotrovimab made by GlaxoSmithKline that had recently received emergency use authorization. We went directly to GlaxoSmithKline, got Sotrovimab for Florida, and deployed it. It served as a bridge to get over the reductions, and fortunately, as a result of the success of early treatment, our infections are now so low that we have gone from thousands to hundreds of treatments per day."
3. Signed Sweeping Law Protecting Voter Integrity
While Democrats in Texas would flee the state to avoid the passage of election integrity measures and Georgia would be punished for passing election integrity laws – losing the All-Star Game to Colorado – Florida's election integrity laws were passed with less political fury.
But the law is no less thorough in protecting election integrity in the third-largest state in the U.S.
The law codifies law on mail-in ballot drop boxes, mail-in ballot requests, and procedures for processing and counting mail ballots. It also defines law against ballot harvesting activity.
"We're proud of the strides that we've made," DeSantis said after signing the law in May. "We're not resting on our laurels, and signing this bill says 'Florida, your vote counts. Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency.'"
4. Signed New Law Holding Big Tech Accountable
Name a Trump administration priority and DeSantis was able to cross it off his 2021 to-do list, including signing a law to hold Big Tech accountable for its efforts to censor and punish conservatives in the market of free ideas and speech.
In a hat tip to the structure of the Texas heartbeat abortion law, DeSantis signed a law permitting "any person to sue Big Tech companies for up to $100,000 in damages" for "deplatforming."
"Florida's Big Tech Bill gives every Floridian the power to fight back against deplatforming and allows any person to sue Big Tech companies for up to $100,000 in damages," DeSantis tweeted in May. "Today, we level the playing field between celebrity and citizen on social media."
5. Signed Sweeping Tax Cut Returning $168M to Taxpayers
As Washington, D.C., worked to raise taxes with its massive spending packages, DeSantis did just the opposite in his state, signing Florida's Tax Cut Package to ensure the state "remains one of the most tax-friendly environments in the nation."
"In Florida, we are providing more than $168 million in taxpayer savings for families and businesses," DeSantis wrote in a statement in May. "I'm proud that we have legislative leaders like Senate President Wilton Simpson, Speaker Chris Sprowls, Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, and Rep. Bobby Payne who understand that we empower Floridians through tax cuts – not increases.
"From sales tax holidays to permanent tax exemptions helping seniors live independently, I am committed to continuing to reduce the tax burden for all residents of our state."
6. Led Efforts to Protect the Everglades, Environment
DeSantis named his spending plans The Freedom First Budget, and it included $4.4 billion in funding for an "environment for the next generation."
Among the initiatives:
- $980 million to restore the Everglades and protect Florida's water resources.
- $550 million to increase the resiliency of Florida's coastal and inland communities.
- $100 million for the Florida Forever program.
- $51.7 million for infrastructure improvements and natural resource management at state parks.
"When I took office, I outlined a bold vision to protect Florida's environment, and we have not only kept the promises we made, we've exceeded them," DeSantis wrote in a November statement.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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