- DeSantis will be laying out his second-term ‘Freedom Blueprint’ in the weeks ahead.
- It’s widely viewed as a blueprint for the
- He has already made some of his intentions clear, on areas from Disney to anti-China policy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rocketed to Republican stardom thanks to his high-profile battles with the Biden administration, the millions he raised from donors, and his policies in Florida.
After handily winning reelection in November, his work in Florida isn’t finished. The next few months of proposing and implementing his agenda are widely viewed in political circles as representative of the issues DeSantis plans to run on if he seeks the GOP nomination.
“I think you have seen that over the last four years when we say we are going to get something done we get it done,” DeSantis said during a press conference Thursday.
DeSantis, 44, has an enviable perch for a presidential run in his role as Florida’s chief executive, one that includes a supportive GOP supermajority in the legislature that’s likely to be deferential to his agenda.
More specifics about what the governor has called his “Freedom Blueprint” are expected in the weeks ahead, including when DeSantis delivers his State of the State address ahead of Florida’s legislative session that begins in March. In that speech, he’ll formally ask state lawmakers for changes to policy and the budget.
From cutting taxes to new policies on schools, here’s what DeSantis has said so far about what Floridians should expect this year. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Cutting sales taxes on numerous items
DeSantis proposed $1.1 billion in cuts for his second term. The state has wiggle room on spending because it finished the most recent fiscal year, in June, with a $22 billion surplus.
DeSantis will ask the Florida legislature to permanently lift the state’s 6% sales tax on baby necessities including on cribs, strollers, clothing, shoes, wipes, and diapers. He also wants the state to nix the sales tax on medical equipment and on medicines for pets.
Other tax cuts would be temporary, including lifting the sales tax for a year on children’s books, athletic equipment, and toys, as well as a proposal to suspend the sales tax on pet food and on household items that cost $25 or less. The latter would include items such as laundry detergent, paper towels, and toilet paper.
DeSantis billed his proposal as an inflation-fighting measure to provide relief on items such as high grocery prices.
But some analysts, such as Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center, have warned that tax breaks could actually worsen inflation because people will spend and consume more at a time when supplies are limited. Florida is facing an affordability crisis in part due to the influx of out-of-staters with higher incomes who moved there.
Banning China from buying Florida farmland and residences
DeSantis is poised to ask state lawmakers to ban China from buying farmland and residences in Florida, the governor confirmed in January.
“We don’t want to have holdings by hostile nations,” the Governor said. “And so if you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things.”
DeSantis said the actual structure of the policy was still being discussed so that his team could devise how to determine whether the Chinese government was behind a real estate investment.
While foreign policy generally tends to be a small part of a governor’s role, such actions on China could add to DeSantis’ foreign policy portfolio.
Cracking down on teacher’s unions
DeSantis wants to make it harder for teachers to enroll and stay in Unions. Under a plan rolled out in December, teachers who work in Florida would have to send a check to their unions every month rather than automatically deduct the dues from their paychecks.
Teachers’ unions have been one of the governor’s top foes, particularly starting in the fall of 2020 after they resisted his push to reopen schools during the pandemic, and after DeSantis banned mask mandates in the classroom.
DeSantis also plans to raise teacher pay by record amounts, though he hasn’t specified by how much or whether it will extend to teachers with more experience.
Increasing transparency on prescription drug prices
The governor released a detailed proposal in January to lower prescription drug prices, with actions that mostly focus on price transparency.
It would require pharmacy middlemen — known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers — to disclose more aspects of their businesses, such as complaints they’ve received, and would obligate prescription drug companies to disclose their price increases publicly, and explain the reasons for these increase.
DeSantis made his announcement one day after the Biden administration released key dates for a new program that will for the first time let Medicare negotiate prices of some of the most expensive medicines. The method is used in countries with similar economies, who pay far less for their medicines than Americans do.
Loosening gun restrictions
DeSantis wants lawmakers to pass legislation that would change Florida law so that gun owners could carry a gun in public without a concealed weapons permit.
Under current law, Floridians don’t have to have a permit to buy or own a gun, but firearm owners must have the permit when they’re in public.
The legislation, were it to pass, would come just a few years after the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Finalizing changes to Disney’s tax district
DeSantis signed a bill into law last year stripping Walt Disney World of its self-governing status, but it won’t take effect until June of this year and parts of the bill still need to be resolved so that Orlando, Florida, residents don’t see tax hikes.
DeSantis is pushing for a measure that would replace Disney’s special self-governing power with a governor-appointed, state-run board, Fox News first reported. It would also have Disney pay $700 million dollars toward its debt.
Areas of uncertainty remain
DeSantis is expected to continue to chip away at abortion rights. He signed a bill into law last year that makes it illegal to have an abortion after 15 weeks into a pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest.
So far, he has sidestepped questions about going further, saying only that he would “expand pro-life protections.” The threat of abortion bans proved to be a major liability for Republicans during the 2022 midterms.
DeSantis is also expected to build off his Parental Rights in Education Act, the controversial legislation that critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” The law bans teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms through third grade, though it has nebulous language that could apply to higher grades.
DeSantis has made it clear he intends to go futher, but hasn’t delivered specifics yet. “We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups,” he said on his January 3 inauguration.