UnidosUS Statement on Florida Gov. DeSantis’s State of the State address

WASHINGTON, DC—Following Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s State of the State address today, UnidosUS Florida State Advocacy Director Jared Nordlund issued the following statement:

“Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first recorded COVID-19 case in Florida. During this morning’s address, Gov. DeSantis failed to lay out a plan on how he’d get the state back to where it was pre-pandemic. Instead, he chose to give a victory speech when it’s only halftime—with nearly two million confirmed cases since the pandemic began and less than two months since the latest spike. The governor could have used his time explaining how he planned to fix the state’s unemployment system, which has caused enormous stress for millions of working Floridians or how he would expand health care access for 200,000 Latinos by closing the state’s uninsured gap.

“Nearly 31,000 Floridians have died of COVID-19, which has caused disproportionate suffering among the state’s Hispanic and Black communities. Yet Gov. DeSantis’s speech was negligent in addressing the real issues affecting working families. In the middle of a pandemic, the governor’s speech prioritized restricting access to voting, protecting hate speech and punishing political enemies that will do nothing to help Floridians recover from COVID-19. We hoped the governor would have addressed the pressing issues that are on the minds of all Floridians:

  • Implementing a detailed vaccination plan that removes confusion, leverages community-based organizations and provides additional access points to distribute the vaccine or conduct community outreach.
  • Prioritizing vaccinations for residents living in COVID-19 hot spot ZIP codes as well as essential workers like all teachers, farmworkers and childcare workers—occupations key to successfully reopening Florida and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
  • Reducing barriers to SNAP and WIC so that working families don’t have to worry about putting food on the table as they recover financially.
  • Fixing the state’s broken unemployment system and removing barriers to accessing reemployment benefits so workers can focus on finding a new job instead of dealing with government red tape and mismanagement.

“The governor’s unwillingness to champion real legislation and bold executive action prevents millions of Florida Hispanics from fully recovering from COVID-19. Instead, Gov. DeSantis today focused on a laundry list of divisive political issues that catered to his base, not everyday Floridians. UnidosUS and its allies understand that much work remains to be done and we will continue to work with legislators this session to pass bills that would allow all 5.6 million Florida Hispanics to thrive through this pandemic and beyond.”