(The Center Square) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized Illinois leadership for its stance on several issues during a Monday visit to the state. On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded.
The Republican governor of Florida just started his second term and made a stop in Elmhurst, Illinois, to speak with police groups. He criticized what he said was "woke" policies impacting public policy and education in Illinois and elsewhere.
Met by protesters outside the event, DeSantis took to the stage in front of supporters. He talked up his state's growth and pointed to Illinois' population decline, noting Florida's unemployment rate is below the national average while Illinois' is above the national average. In front of police groups, he encouraged officers to take advantage of a $5,000 signing bonus Florida offers police that move to the state to work in the law enforcement industry. DeSantis also discussed school choice scholarships for law enforcement families and the affordability of higher education in Florida.
"Grandparents who are Florida residents can qualify for in-state tuition for their grandchildren," DeSantis said. "So any of you, if you have parents down there and they are residents, and then your kids want to go in the state, and trust me, as a parent, would you rather pay $6,200 for tuition or whatever they're charging everyone else."
Pritzker, a Democrat starting his second term in Illinois, responded on Tuesday, pointing to one publication's ranking of Illinois' K-12 system.
"The truth is we actually have a much better education system in Illinois than they have in Florida," Pritzker said. "We're ranked higher than they are, U.S. News and World Report ranked K-12 education in Illinois 6th in the country and No. 1 among the largest states in the country."
DeSantis also took shots at Illinois' management of public safety and pointed to a high crime rate in Chicago and elsewhere. He said they take care of their police officers in Florida.
"The reason you have crime that has spiraled out of control in so many of these different areas is because you have politicians putting woke ideology over public safety," DeSantis said.
The Republican said Illinois will be less safe if no-cash bail is implemented. That measure is on hold while an appeal of a lower court ruling Illinois' Pretrial Fairness Act unconstitutional is pending in the Illinois Supreme Court.
Pritzker, who signed no-cash bail into law, said Illinois is supporting police officers in every way it can.
"Many of the things we have invested in over the last couple of years have been to the benefit of our police departments across Illinois, " Pritzker said. "We are going to continue to do what is right for law enforcement."
Pritzker's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes an extra $506 million for K-12 education and additional funding for public safety.
Both governors are considered possible presidential contenders in the 2024 presidential election, but neither has announced they are running.