Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces $150 million for infrastructure improvements

Funding to help communities prepare for hurricanes

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LAKELAND, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday held a news conference in Lakeland to announce financial awards for infrastructure improvements in Florida communities.

DeSantis was be joined at Bonnet Springs Park by Dane Eagle, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, to talk about the nearly $150 million being doled out by the state.

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The governor rattled off a long list of areas across the state getting millions of dollars to build “more resilient infrastructure,” including $2.8 million coming to Orlando and another $4.7 million for Osceola County. The goal of this money is two-fold; helping communities recover from past hurricanes and better preparing them for future storms.

“This is important to make sure this infrastructure happens,’ Eagle said. “The Office of Longterm Resiliency, which is within DEO, our goal is to not only make sure that you’re rebuilding from past storms but really looking ahead to that next storm. We all know as Floridians it’s going to happen again. So, we got to make sure we’re more resilient.”

The governor said this $150 million announcement marked nearly $500 million in infrastructure spending and that there would be more money coming.

“Both my initiatives for Resilient Florida and then what the legislature is working on, we’re going to have a steady stream of money to be able to deal with resiliency and different infrastructure needs,” DeSantis said.

Following the infrastructure announcement, DeSantis touted Florida economic recovery while deriding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its continued reluctance to allow cruises to sail again.

“I think it raises a lot of implications far beyond just our economy or the cruise lines, and you know ultimately who governs? Do we govern ourselves? Can we make these decisions for ourselves, or is everything subcontracted out to an unelected bureaucracy,” DeSantis said.

The state is currently suing the federal government to allow cruise lines to resume operations.

The governor also took issue with the handling of the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Obviously, I don’t know the information they have,” DeSantis said. “But if you’re going to do that you could have done that in a way that was not going to cause a lot of people to lose confidence.”

He also questioned the federal messaging on vaccines and why people who have been vaccinated have been told to continue wearing face masks and social distancing.

“I think the messaging on this has been horrific. The messaging should be ‘Get a vaccine because it’s good for you to do it. It works, you’re not going to have to be doing anything abnormal. You can live your life,’” DeSantis said.

According to the CDC’s website, it is still not clear how effective the current COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing the spread of the virus, though they are effective at preventing infections for those who are vaccinated.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.