Honored - Budget for the Great State of Florida signed in Volusia County.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's $101.5 billion budget Wednesday at The Garlic restaurant, one of many businesses across the state that is thriving despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

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GOVERNOR SIGNS 'FLORIDA LEADS' BUDGET

Projecting the state's spending plans during the pandemic initially looked like "really, really big disaster for Florida," DeSantis said. "We were obviously concerned about it, but as we got into the summer (of 2020), we were open. I remember a lot of people were trying to tell me to close restaurants like this one, so we didn't do it. We kept businesses open, we got kids in school, we did all those things and the result was our economy really started to rebound."

Sen. Tom Wright -- The Governor -- Rep. Webster Barnaby

Jeff Gehris, owner of The Garlic, thanked DeSantis for his approach to keeping businesses open. "I have to thank him for the common-sense approach that's happened here with this COVID disaster," Gehris said. "The past three months are the best three months we've had 16 years." 

  

photos by Vic Baker

Record spending, money in reserves

Despite its low tax burden, the state has $9.5 billion in reserves, and will show more after June's revenue is added before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, DeSantis said. "That's gonna mean we have $10 billion in reserve in the state of Florida," he said.

The governor touted K-12 schools spending, including $1,000 bonuses for teachers and school principals, as well as first responders and corrections workers, $10.3 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation's work program and $2.5 billion for mental-health and substance-abuse programs.

"This is one of the best budgets the state's ever done for mental health and mental well-being," DeSantis said. "It's also one of the best budgets we've ever done for protecting Florida's water resources and natural environment." He cited $625 million for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources, millions more for coastal resiliency grants.

Rep. Tom Leek - VC GOP Chairman Paul Deering - Sen. Tom Wright
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Make America Florida❗ DeSantis signs law protecting fairness in women’s sports.

“I can tell you this: in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports.”

After signing S.B. 1028, Gov. DeSantis introduced Selina Soule, who spoke about her experience losing to biological males who identify as female:

“In 2017, Connecticut began allowing two male athletes who self-identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports. During all four years of high school, I was forced to compete against them, even though they were bigger, stronger, and faster than me, because they were male,” Soule recounted. “In just three years, these two athletes won 15 women’s championship titles and they set 17 new individual meet records, records which we girls had no hope of breaking.”

Selina Soule Ron DeSantis Transgender women's sports

“Those two biological males would dominate the field, leaving us girls to compete for third place and beyond. No matter how hard we’d train, and how hard we pushed ourselves, they beat us time and time again. We elite female athletes don’t give up a normal high school experience just for participation trophies. We race to win,” she said.

“This isn’t about self-expression, this is about our right — a woman’s right — to win,” Soule declared. “During my junior year, I was denied the chance to compete at the regional New England championships. I missed advancing to the next level of competition at the 55-meter dash by just two spots, two spots that were taken by biological males,” she recalled.

“It was frustrating, heartbreaking, and demoralizing to be sidelined in my own sport,” Soule said. She said she reviewed the bill DeSantis would sign. “All I can say, on behalf of all female athletes, is, Thank you, governor.”

“Let me say very clearly, in Florida, we’re going to do what’s right"

“We’ll stand up to corporations. They are not going to dictate the policies in this state. We will stand up to groups like the NCAA who think that they should be able to dictate the policies in different states. Not here, not ever.”

“And so we won’t be cowed. We will stand strong,” DeSantis added. He declared that even if the price of defending fairness in women’s sports is “that we lose an event or two, I would choose to protect our girls every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

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June 1st = America First

Watch MAGA boat parade in Jupiter Inlet, Florida

There are a few things that the low-testosterone, has-been Republicans like Paul Ryan and his ilk always miss when they warn the party away from Donald Trump. The most obvious, of course, is that this is Trump’s party now and they’re merely C Team periphery players who should be seen and not heard. Much to the chagrin of the Romney/Cheney/Ryan surrender wing of the GOP, Trump remains a major player in Republican politics from Mar-a-Lago. He’s not going to go away, and most Republicans don’t want him to.

Trump is now joining forces with Newt Gingrich, who runs a close second to the former president as the Republican Democrats Most Love to Hate.

More by Stacey Lennox:

One of President Trump’s 2020 campaign pitches was “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” On the campaign trail in 2016, he was pretty specific on key priorities like Supreme Court nominations, border security, the economy, and trade. When he could use the Chief Executive powers, he delivered on more of his promises than any president in my lifetime, even dragging congressional Democrats along when further obstruction would hurt them politically.

Now he has tapped Newt Gingrich to develop a modern version of a very successful idea from the 1990s. Gingrich was the author of the Contract with America, a document that gave congressional Republicans and candidates the message discipline to make their case to the American people. Historians credit this contract with allowing Republicans to retake both chambers of Congress in 1994 for the first time since 1953. Politico reports Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senator Lindsey Graham are also involved.

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Memorial Day 2021

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France   

2,289 graves of American military war dead

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who died in service to the United States of America. It was commemorated at first to honor the Union dead of the Civil War and originally proclaimed Decoration Day by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 30, 1868. Finally, by 1967, Decoration Day officially became Memorial Day, according to federal law. There are many great traditions in the military. One of the greatest is a solemn respect for anyone who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy

7,858 graves of American military war dead

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Korean War Memorial - Washington DC

54,246 American military war dead

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall - Washington DC

58,220 American military war dead

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DeSantis: People Coming To Florida Are Overwhelmingly Registering As Republicans

"The lockdowns turned them into Republicans.”

 Governor Ron DeSantis during a town hall event Wednesday night

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“The media at the beginning of this said Florida’s bad and I think it’s because they want to damage Trump in Florida, they want to damage me. So, they just kept saying it was bad. And even though the facts didn’t say it, literally last April, they’re saying Florida is doing worse than New York. New York was like 10 times worse.”

And so, people that buy those phony narratives, they probably aren’t coming to Florida. But the people that see through it, they think like us. And so, I a lot of these people are coming. I think they are registering as Republicans overwhelmingly. And I also have come across a lot of people who were Democrats. The lockdowns turned them into Republicans.”

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