Video produced and edited by Jordan Zakarin and Ian McKenna
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pulling a major scam, and he’s using lies like this to cover it up: “I will fight for the taxpayers and families of our great state.”
But that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is Ron DeSantis is running a multibillion-dollar corporate welfare extravaganza.
So rhetoric like this: “I will stand up to corporations. They are not going to dictate the policies in this state.” … is just part of the myth DeSantis has cultivated that he’ll fight for working class people.
The fact is that since DeSantis took office, corporations in Florida have reaped $5.7 billion from tax cuts, loopholes, and giveaways from the governor and the Republican-controlled state legislature.
His squabble with Disney is just the latest example of this rhetoric—and hypocrisy on corporate accountability. What DeSantis isn’t saying in his attacks on Disney is why he left their $578 million tax credits untouched if he wants to take them on.
And that was just Disney. The largest corporations in Florida are getting millions from DeSantis’s government regularly.
In 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis permitted a massive $543 million in tax refunds for major corporations, agreed to in 2018, to go into effect even as his own state’s unemployment system crumbled.
In 2019, the Republican-led legislature okayed another massive tax refund for corporations—not for people. That payout in May 2022 will be $624 million for the biggest corporations in Florida.
It’s not as if these corporations need it: a 2019 study found that 99% of companies pay NO corporate income tax in Florida.
And when the state’s unemployment trust fund dried up, DeSantis shifted the responsibility of refilling it FROM businesses through their taxes TO average Floridians through a $1 billion-a-year new tax on online sales. He did this all while dumping on Floridian’s calls for more expansive unemployment benefits.
So when he says — “Let there be no misunderstanding: As governor, I will lead with purpose and conviction on behalf of the people of Florida.” — It’s not true. He’s leading on behalf of corporations. Like when he came out against raising the minimum wage. More than 60% of Florida voters would go on to approve a minimum wage hike.
And when he says this — “If our environment is threatened, I will move to protect it.” — It’s also not true. He will move to protect corporate interests.
Take the sugar cane industry, responsible for pollution that causes cancer and “red tide.” He talked a big game about holding them accountable.
In 2021, DeSantis signed legislation shielding those same sugar companies from legal actions surrounding the long-term health care problems caused by their burning fields. U.S. Sugar donated $350,000 to Florida’s Republican Party during DeSantis’ election.
And it’s no surprise why other corporations are getting these million-dollar tax refunds or getting support on their anti-living-wage campaigns: Corporations donate more money than working class Floridians. Much more.
Over his career, Desantis has received nearly $20 million from Wall Street, $5 million from real estate investors, and $3 million from lobbyists and lawyers.
So every policy DeSantis pushes is a gift to his biggest, richest donors.
The big corporate tax cuts? Rewards to virtually every billionaire in the country – many of whom, including Richard Uihlein, Bernie Marcus and the late Sheldon Adelson, are among Desantis’ largest donors.
Private equity firms and hedge funds are rushing to line DeSantis’s pockets — one prominent hedge fund leader, Ken Griffin, recently gave him $5 million.
Florida Power and Light got its $1.53 billion-dollar rate hike after pouring millions into Republican campaigns and Super PACs.
And even as Florida falls in income inequality, tax fairness, education spending—you name it… Ron DeSantis will keep leading his culture wars, claiming to ‘stand up to big business.’
The ‘right thing’ for DeSantis seems to be turning his back on Floridians and and protecting the bottom line of massive corporations.