Apr 6, 2021
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript April 6: Responds to 60 Minutes Segment on Publix, Vaccine Rollout
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on April 6, 2021. He addressed the 60 Minutes segment about Publix and Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Governor DeSantis: (00:51)
Well, great to be back in Bay County. I want to thank Dane Eagle director of economic opportunity for helping with this announcement. I also want to thank Jay Trumbull, doing a great job, representing the people here in Northwest Florida and Bay County and has been doing that. We’ve been working very closely now for a couple of years, responding to Hurricane Michael.
Governor DeSantis: (01:15)
Should I give the actual comments or should I do the 60 Minutes where they crib everything and then create a big narrative comment? We’ll just do the real truth and then we’ll see what happens.
Governor DeSantis: (01:25)
We’re happy here today to be able to make another announcement to show we’re making even more progress on the long-term recovery from Hurricane Michael. As everyone remembers back in 2018, it was a storm really like no other in terms of the ferocity of the winds. The damage was catastrophic in certain areas. And we knew when I came into office in January of 2019, that this was a longterm effort. And so we came as soon as I took office, not just to be able to do some things right away. Obviously I worked with President Trump to get a lot of support. But to let the people in Northwest Florida know, we understand that this is going to take a longterm effort.
Governor DeSantis: (02:09)
And so we pledged our commitment to continue to do that. We’ve made a lot of strides and we’ve been able to accomplish a lot. We want to continue to do more, particularly for many of the communities here in Northwest … Along with the waiver, I’m also pleased to announce the rollout of the Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program administered by EO. It’s designed to support disaster recovery by providing workforce training for Floridians and communities impacted to Hurricane Michael. This is tailored to specific economic revitalization needs of a particular region. The construction trade is critical for rebuilding communities that were devastated by Hurricane Michael. In particular, the program provides funding to local workforce development boards, education institutions and technical centers to launch training programs, which address the increased demand in the construction trades, while also providing support to Floridians seeking new employment in the post disaster economy.
Governor DeSantis: (03:07)
And so today we’re going to do our first awards. Now we have more money to do more awards. We’re doing $4.7 million in funding to Chipola College and Tallahassee Community College for building construction technology and welding technology construction programs. If you’re wanting to do Mariana campus you would be able to do that if you wanted to. But we were talking about Dane and I, there is more money, people in Bay County can apply for this as well. We’re doing the construction technology program … Basically doesn’t do much for them when they get out.
Governor DeSantis: (03:45)
And then they’re under employed with a lot of debt. You have some guys, they get out of high school, they train, they go into something like welding. They’re making a $100,000 a year in their early 20s many times. No debt. And a lot of them could even go into business on their own and make even more income. This is a no-brainer to be able to provide opportunities in these industries. And I think that obviously the state we’re going to be covering part or all the local match requirements for local government who’ve already faced extraordinary fiscal impacts due to the storm. The local waivers are going to provide a lot of relief to the communities three years later. I think that the waivers, the workforce program, I think it’s really, really exciting.
Governor DeSantis: (04:30)
We’ve done a lot over the last two plus years, we wanted to ensure a full and robust recovery efforts. We wanted to prioritize infrastructure, housing, economic development, and mental health and Hurricane Michael effected communities. We took quick and decisive action to put in place an expedited process to accelerate funding [inaudible 00:04:50] by Hurricane [inaudible 00:04:51] Florida percent of the estimated front through [inaudible 00:04:55] awarding almost a billion dollars in hurricane recovery funds since January 8th of 2019. Working with the Trump administration, we also were able to receive 45 days of 100% federal [inaudible 00:05:13] for Hurricane Michael debris removal, saving the state and Northwest Florida almost half a billion dollars.
Governor DeSantis: (05:20)
After the hurricane, thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed creating an immediate and long-term need for housing. With our partners in the legislature, we [inaudible 00:05:29] over at $115 million in the budget the following year for affordable housing targeted to areas impacted by Michael. This includes $65 million for the hurricane housing recovery program and $50 million for the rental recovery loan program.
Governor DeSantis: (05:44)
Along with this, the Florida Housing Finance Corp dispersed $5 million to 10 counties effected by Michael as part of the ship program. To support economic recovery we’ve distribute over $21 million through the emergency bridge loan program at the Department of Economic Opportunity in an effort to help our small businesses, as well as providing $5 million in rural infrastructure grants.
Governor DeSantis: (06:06)
Florida was also able to score almost $20 million in federal funding through the National Dislocated Worker Grant and Disaster Unemployment Assistance program to provide temporary employment and support cleanup missions to areas most affected. The current year budget also includes two funds to support businesses and critical infrastructure, including $40 million in federal funds for the revolving loan fund program to assist businesses with economic challenges and 25 million through the Hurricane Michael Recovery Grant program, which makes funds available to support critical infrastructure repair replacement and hardening.
Governor DeSantis: (06:40)
Also, we had $13 million in interest free loans for the agriculture industry to support farmers recovery after the storm. And then finally we placed an emphasis on mental health and my wife, Casey was instrumental in championing the installation of tele-health portals in 63 public schools throughout six counties in Northwest Florida to provide mental health services to students still recovering from Hurricane Michael.
Governor DeSantis: (07:04)
We’ve done a lot. Today means we’re going to do more. I was talking to Jay. We’ve got all this federal money that you can use on infrastructure. I told them, “Make sure you get your money’s worth for Northwest Florida in terms of some of the infrastructure needs that we have here.” I know that he’s going to be working on that in the legislature, and we’re going to be happy to support a lot of those initiatives. And so I want to let both Dane and Jay come up and say a few words.
Dane Eagle: (07:34)
Thank you governor, and thank you all for the opportunity today. The governor invited me to lead the department of economic opportunity last September and I have been in the panhandle more than anywhere else in the state since that time, because of his focus on recovery from Hurricane Michael. He told me from day one, “We get a lot of pass through grants from [inaudible 00:07:51] from the feds.” And he says, “Don’t let this money sit in our state conference, get it out to the community.” I’ve been working closely with Representative Trumbull to find ways to make sure that we are helping this community recover.
Dane Eagle: (08:01)
At DEO we have the office of long-term resiliency. FEMA comes in short term making sure you guys are up and on your feet, but we’re really looking at how can we make sure the community is recovering from long-term efforts? We look a lot at infrastructure and resiliency and those purposes, but we all know that recovery it’s not just buildings and infrastructure. It’s the people too.
Dane Eagle: (08:21)
The grant that the governor’s announcing today is quite phenomenal. $1.77 million that we can use for workforce development, with Chipola College, with TCC and the counties around the panhandle to make sure that the people that were displaced from Hurricane Michael and still might be struggling. We all know the timber industry was hit pretty hard as well as others. They can now at no cost go into these institutions, apply for this opportunity and be able to get skills that will give back to them for a lifetime in construction, welding, as the governor mentioned, and many other opportunities. We’ll be working very closely with these institutions to get these up and running. The hope is that they’re up by this coming fall. Stay tuned for information on how you can be found eligible.
Dane Eagle: (09:02)
And also we have other grants that are coming, so stay tuned on that. But one that is ongoing right now is the housing. If you are an individual in this community that is still looking for repairs, still trying to make sure your home is up to speed, please go to rebuildflorida.gov so you can apply and we can help you. We stand ready to assist. The governor’s been on it since day one. Representative trumbull’s been making sure, knocking on my door, letting me know how he can help, or how we can help him in this community. Thank you for the opportunity. I have a feeling we’ll be back soon. Appreciate it.
Jay Trumbull: (09:36)
Thank you Dane. Thank you governor. Governor DeSantis has been by far the most friendly governor that the panhandle has seen and he is here consistently with great news. And today is one of those days. This cost share program will save just Bay County, $17 million. Not including what Panama City, Callaway, Springfield, Parker, Panama City Beach, all of these other communities, and then counties, in other Hurricane Michael effected communities.
Jay Trumbull: (10:13)
Governor, we all remember where we were on October 10th, 2018, and the landscape looks very different. And as the landscape fell, so did our infrastructure and much needed resources like these will help us rebuild our infrastructure faster, especially as our community is continuing to grow with great news coming out of Tyndall Air Force Base last week with three new squadrons of F35’s. We are ripe for success in the panhandle, and just like Tim was rebuilding the base of the future, Northwest Florida Bay County is rebuilding the community of the future and I appreciate your support in allowing us to be able to do that. Thank you very much for your support and look forward to you continuing to come and bring good news. Thank you.
Governor DeSantis: (11:07)
Now we just need these guys to do a good job over the next few weeks, making sure we’re getting all our initiatives across the finish line during the legislative session. Look, I think that the panhandle has done very well over the last year compared to many parts of the country. I mean, if you look at, in spite of the challenges in COVID, you have more people that want to come here. I was just talking to a great business lot yesterday about potentially moving one of the manufacturing plants to Bay County. People understand that this is a great place to be all across this post.
Governor DeSantis: (11:40)
And if we were here a year ago, everyone was saying that Florida, it’s going to be doom and gloom, massive problems. And you look now they’re going to redo these numbers today or tomorrow coming out. We’re going to have so much more revenue than anyone was forecasting. We’ve been getting 200, 250, sometimes even $300 million more a year in revenue than the forecast or more a month. More a month. Even better. More a month. If you look at just where we would be, April, May, June the last three months of the fiscal year at that pace, that’s between 700 and maybe even a billion dollars in additional revenue.
Governor DeSantis: (12:27)
And I think that’s a function of the fact Florida’s open. People have the right to work. Businesses have a right to operate. Kids are in school and we’re helping to lead the way. I think that we’re going to be able to do a lot of good stuff as a result of the underlying health of the state relative to all these other states. I mean, you look, some of these states still have eight and 9% unemployment, and we have 4.7%. And I have one of my number one industries crippled, the cruise. They won’t let the cruises ship sail. And that’s totally unacceptable. We want to try to get that going, but just think of all that activity, all the other tourism that we would normally get from Europe or South America, those flights aren’t going like they used to. We are leading the way versus a lot of the other places nationally, but we have a lot more room to be able to do even better.
Governor DeSantis: (13:23)
And so I think that doing some great things in this legislative session, passing a really good responsible, but good budget that’s meeting our needs, I think is going to make a huge, huge difference. And so I’m excited about the prospects. I’m excited what we can do here in Bay County. You guys need anything else? You good? Well, we’re going to work hard. Thank you. You guys have anything? Yes.
Speaker 5: (13:43)
Yeah. Primarily the hurricane efforts have been [inaudible 00:13:44]. What’s that looking for [inaudible 00:13:57]?
Governor DeSantis: (13:57)
I don’t know with respect to Michael, so I can’t be sure about that. Obviously with President Trump, I could pick up the phone and get him on the phone. Very good relationship. I didn’t have to go through mountains of staff. Obviously he wanted to help us because he really liked Florida. There were a lot of unique things I think that happened during that time. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we were able to do so well for Bay County. When I went up to see him, I came down, I told these guys, “We’re in this fight. We’re going to help.” I flew up to Washington shortly thereafter and I’m in the oval office meeting with him about the money, about getting more of the reimbursements. And we asked for the 45 days at 100%, which that’s hundreds of millions of dollars.
Governor DeSantis: (14:44)
And basically his staff and everyone, they didn’t want them to do it. I mean, you could tell. Some of them, “Well, let’s discuss it.” And the President said, “I got to be there for the folks in the panhandle, so you tell them we’re going to do it.” His staff tried to reel it back in, but he did. That was, I think, unique just having someone that was willing to barrel ahead based on what they thought was right rather than get paralyzed by the staff. It’s a different dynamic, no question. But look, we’re going to continue to fight. We’re going to continue to plow forward. We’ll do whatever we can to get the most for this area. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 6: (15:25)
Governor DeSantis: (15:35)
I think there’s a lot of great people that have helped us with FEMA. I do think there’s still some processes. Look, it’s a big bureaucracy. And to be fair to them, the disasters continue to Mount. We had a lot of disasters since Michael. ’19 and ’20, there were a lot of disasters too. But some of it is the bureaucracy. That’s why when we came in, I told Jared Moscow, “Get the money out.” He did the 50% upfront. This was huge. That was hundreds of millions of dollars. We’ve ended up doing almost a billion. At the state level, our view is if you’re going to do this type of recovery, you’re going to do this response, do it. You may make some mistakes along the way, but if you get paralyzed by bureaucracy, then you end up not doing it efficiently, effectively.
Governor DeSantis: (16:22)
That’s been ours. That’s what I told Dane. Dane oversees some of these long-term recovery. With Irma, I mean, it takes a long time to do some of this. I get it. But I said, “Dane, get out where we can.” He’s getting out. I mean, how much have you gotten out since you’ve been-
Jay Trumbull: (16:35)
About $330 million.
Governor DeSantis: (16:38)
$330 million. From the state level, our view is the quicker you can do it the better. Now, some of this stuff, I mean, we’re going to be doing some of the long-term recovery here for more for years now. That’s just the nature of it. Thanks everybody. We’ll see you soon.
Speaker 7: (16:53)
[inaudible 00:16:53] 15 minutes. [inaudible 00:17:00].
Governor DeSantis: (16:59)
They cut out everything that showed that their narrative was a piece of horse manure and it shows you how dishonest. These are smear merchants. That’s why nobody trusts corporate media. They are a disaster in what they’re doing. They knew what they were doing was a lie. I knew what they were doing was a lie. Everybody here knows what they were doing is a lie. They know that we know they’re lying and yet they continue to lie and they lied and they lied and they lied. We’ve offered them the information and they declined to interview the key people because they didn’t want to let go of the narrative. Well, guess what? There’s going to be consequences for that. I know corporate media thinks that they can just run over people. You ain’t running over this governor. I’m punching back and I’m going to continue to do it until these smear merchants are held accountable.
Governor DeSantis: (17:58)
The fact of the matter is Florida has vaccinated three and a half million senior citizens. We were the first state in the country to put seniors first. The results of our efforts are that seniors are much less likely to be hospitalized for COVID than they were six months ago. Our efforts have worked and particularly in Palm Beach County, we’ve done over 275,000 seniors, just in that one county. That’s 75% of all the seniors there. It’s been a team effort. We worked in a lot of different ways, but you can’t lie and you should have not run it. They were warned. And yet they plowed ahead anyways. And so we’re going to be doing even more to expose more lies because there’s lies built upon lies on all this.
Governor DeSantis: (18:48)
For example, they’re attacking Publix. You know it’s New York corporate media when you come to Florida and attack Publix. Maybe they like their dogs better than Publix, but I mean, it’s one of the most popular brands in the state. It would have been malpractice to cut Publix out of assisting. And I know we were able to expand retail sites in Bay. People were very happy. But what they’re saying is a total crock that somehow only Publix was getting it is nonsense. And we told them it was that and they cut it out. They spliced it because they can’t handle the truth. And they know if they would have put out everything, they wouldn’t have had a story and so they went for the smear. They’ve been caught red-handed. Now see all these corporate media people, they all scratch each other’s back, so a lot of them just are pretending it didn’t happen. They’re not going to really police their own, but we’re going to have a lot of people that are going to police their own.
Governor DeSantis: (19:48)
But the message is for people out there, unless you’re a partisan leftist, do not trust corporate media. You can’t trust them. They’re not trustworthy. They will lie. They will smear. And then they just move on to the next target and think that they’re going to be able to get away with it. You ain’t getting away with it here. You come down to our state and you try to smear people, we’re going to bite back and we’re going to hold you accountable. This is not over by any stretch of the imagination.