Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book delivered a response speech to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address, which was given to the joint legislative session from the Florida House of Representatives chamber in Tallahassee.
Our home — the Great State of Florida – has much to be proud of:
We are the 3rd most populous State in the Union,
We have a booming, tourism-driven economy that continues to grow each and every day-
We have a world-class environment that shapes our way of life,
With a diverse patchwork of Floridians who celebrate our differences as strengths,-
While finding common ground on the need for lower costs, with higher pay,-
Easier access to affordable health care,-
Safer communities free from gun violence,-
A good education for our children,-
And a love of freedom – REAL Freedom.
By my Democratic view, much of this has been put at risk by the divisive agenda of a Governor vying to be the most conservative in the nation.-
Banning books?! That’s not freedom.
Limiting protests against the government?! That’s not freedom.
Claiming to be pro-business, yet attacking Florida businesses big and small. That’s not freedom.
Forced pregnancy and birth, even in cases of rape and incest!! That is not freedom.
Floridians struggling with the skyrocketing cost of living. That is not freedom.
THIS, my fellow Floridians this is the TRUE State of our State.
The party of supposed limited government has developed a taste for control, and with it – an aversion to accountability.
Hiding behind a brand of “freedom” I don’t recognize, while the Governor amasses nearly unchecked power.
We must ALL pay attention to what’s happening over the next 60 days, because under the current State of Affairs, things have already gone both too far, and yet not far enough.
My fellow Floridians, I am addressing you as the proud Leader of the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus — a strong, diverse group of committed warriors fighting on behalf of everyday working people – but also as a lifelong Floridian and the mother of two young kids, with grave concerns about the path of our Great State.
It’s true, Florida’s economy is booming … but from the Southernmost Point to the Gulf shores, working people continue to struggle.
When Floridians can’t earn a living wage to create their own version of the American Dream, it’s time to ask, why?
When homeowners can’t afford property, health, and car insurance – with no relief in sight – it’s time to ask, why?
When the elderly can’t afford health care, and families are having to ration insulin – it’s time to ask, why?
When teachers and first responders can’t afford to live in the communities they serve, it’s time to ask, why?
THIS is the true State of our State – and Floridians – YOU – deserve better!
We deserve real freedom to earn a living wage –
To exercise freedom of uncensored speech, written or spoken –
To be safe from gun violence –
To work jobs that allow us to afford the basics, and still have some left for savings, and to do something special with and for our kids.
That’s the Florida that Senate Democrats are fighting for.
Our Caucus is fighting for Shavaughn and Ricky and Cristina – for Maxwell and Tracy and Stella – for Onelia and Paisleigh – for Yoni and Bernardo. Real people in communities across this state who work hard and deserve more.
It’s why Senator Polsky is fighting to make sure First Responders and their families can afford homes to live in –
It’s why Senator Rouson is fighting to make sure healthy food is not just for the wealthy
It’s why Senator Thompson is sounding the alarm on Medicaid – asking WHY Republicans are turning away federal funds to keep Floridians poor and sick
It’s why Senator Jones is leading the fight to keep AP Black History in schools
And why Senator Berman is fighting to raise teacher pay
It’s why Senator Davis is fighting for mental health care reform
And it’s why Senator Osgood is fighting to help returning citizens find housing
It’s why Senator Torres is fighting for our veterans
And it’s why Leader Designate Pizzo is fighting for accountability – going the extra mile, suing the Governor over illegal and immoral migrant flights
It’s also why Senator Stewart is fighting to protect our natural resources,
And why Senator Powell is fighting for clean drinking water for his daughter
And it’s why I am fighting to permanently remove the regressive tax on diapers for infants and adults – because parents shouldn’t have to choose between putting gas in the car or buying clean diapers for their baby – or their own parents for that matter.
Florida Senate Democrats and our Democratic colleagues in the House are here fighting for each and every one of YOU.
We don’t fear diversity of opinion, for we stand together, united by one common goal: creating a better, safer, truly FREER, and more affordable State for you and your family – a Better State of this State — because it’s what we ALL deserve.
My friends and fellow Floridians, the time has come to lift up your voices
To speak up and to speak out!!!
Because if we don’t, things will only get worse!
Your elected Democratic leaders will never give up this fight, to create a better state for each and every one of us – regardless of age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or anything else …. Because every Floridian, and every child, deserves a future filled with opportunity.
We’re fighting for the values of working people – the very backbone of our beautiful Great State.
We’re fighting to bring back free and uncensored speech, because that’s how great ideas, and how smart policy is made.
And we’re fighting because we believe that at the end of the day, we’re all Floridians, friends, and neighbors first.
We must ALL be allowed to live truly free, safe, and prosperous life.
Over the next 60 days of the Legislative Session and beyond, we need freedom-loving Floridians everywhere to get engaged and stay engaged. To make our voices heard. And to stand up not only for our own rights and freedoms, but for those of our fellow Floridians.
Because make no mistake – dangerous attempts to undermine our freedoms as we know them will continue to occur if we don’t stand up and fight.
The powers that be have come for workers
For Black history
For public education
For your local government
For access to the courts
For women and for girls
For survivors of sexual assault
For everyday people just trying to get by
Make no mistake… we are only as free as the least free among us.
And together, we must fight.