TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez shared the many successes under her leadership over the past year.
“I am humbled to continue serving Floridians in our second term in office and I am proud to work alongside our great Governor Ron DeSantis,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I look forward to many more accomplishments in 2024.”
In her fifth year as Chair of the Space Florida Board of Directors, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez led a transitional period for Space Florida. Under Lieutenant Governor Nuñez’s steadfast leadership, the Space Florida Board of Directors announced a nationwide search to find a new President and Chief Executive Officer, given the retirement of former President Frank DiBello. Following an extensive process, the Space Florida Board of Directors announced the former Space Launch Delta 30 Site Commander Colonel Robert Long as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Space Florida to lead the agency into the future. The Lieutenant Governor also led the transition of a newly appointed Space Florida Board of Directors.
Earlier this year, Florida was selected as the future home of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) headquarters and Space Delta 13, the force’s education and training branch. The announcement follows the Lieutenant Governor’s statewide collaborative effort touting Florida as the most innovative military training technology hub in the country, with an impressive workforce pipeline, that could further support the Space Force mission. Last year, the Lieutenant Governor urged the United States Air Force to select Florida for STARCOM and Delta 13. This announcement will continue to show the nation that Florida is best suited to support our space national security endeavors.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez led two successful state mission trips to the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the 54th Paris Air Show in France. During the Space Symposium and the 54th Paris Air Show, the Lieutenant Governor met with several officials across various aerospace entities including SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, United States Space Force, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Embraer, Dassault, RTX and others. During these missions, the Lieutenant Governor’s strategic business meetings with aerospace companies focused on the current needs of the aerospace industry, promoting growth, and identifying future opportunities for collaboration between Florida and the ever-growing aerospace sector. Florida’s presence at the Paris Air Show saw actual export sales exceeding $10.7 million and expected export sales through the following 24 months exceeding $72.3 million, for a total of $82.9 million.
The diversification of Florida’s expansive aerospace ecosystem, from maintenance and repair operations at Cecil Spaceport to orbital launch services at Cape Canaveral, is positioning the state as the premier global destination for all things aerospace. Space Florida’s aerospace projects continue to drive Florida’s economy and their message is resonating with the aerospace industry, as Space Florida continues to see increases to its Capital Programs pipeline. As of June 30th, Space Florida’s business pipeline boasted a total of 146 projects with an estimated capital investment of $3.9 billion. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and the Board of Directors continue to support Space Florida in finalizing these prospective projects. This year, Amazon Kuiper announced its satellite processing facility to begin construction at Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility. Amazon is investing approximately $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment and bringing several hundred jobs to Florida’s Space Coast. Under Lieutenant Governor Nuñez’s leadership, Space Florida was successful in recruiting, retaining, and expanding 15 aerospace-related companies and recruiting and retaining nearly 5,000 high-quality jobs across Florida’s aerospace ecosystem.
This year, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez announced the second annual Florida Space Art Contest and encouraged Florida students in grades K-5 to create an original art piece inspired by the theme Time Travel to 2123: Florida’s Future as the Space Capital. The Lieutenant Governor was proud to announce world-renowned artist Romero Britto as the featured artist of the year. With over 1,500 students participating, 12 finalists were selected including two grand prize winners and the first-of-its-kind Romero Britto Award recipient. The finalists won an opportunity to paint alongside Romero Britto and the two grand prize winners will have their artwork flown into space on an upcoming SpaceX mission. The annual Space Art Contest has been a huge success with over 4,000 submissions across the state over the past two years.
As Chair of the Florida Cybersecurity Advisory Council, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez continues to lead the administration’s efforts to strengthen the state’s cybersecurity resiliency. The Cybersecurity Advisory Council serves an instrumental role in providing guidance to state and local governments on ways to further enhance their cybersecurity infrastructure. In addition to providing recommendations and direction to improve security intelligence, modernization, training, and resiliency, the Advisory Council is enhancing Florida’s operational readiness and further aligning our information technology systems to meet the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards. The Council has also analyzed ransomware incidents and provided findings, trends, and recommendations to the Legislature to better position Florida’s response efforts to potential incidents.
Earlier this year, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez was joined by Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Pedro Allende, Florida Digital Service (FLDS) staff and members of the Florida Legislature to visit the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). During the visit, the Lieutenant Governor executed a memorandum of understanding between the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) and the INL to ensure collaboration in workforce development, critical infrastructure enhancements, operational readiness, training, and research to further strengthen Florida’s cybersecurity resiliency and digital infrastructure.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez, alongside DMS Secretary Allende, launched the Florida Local Government Cybersecurity Grant Program, Florida’s most bold and one-of-a-kind initiative in cybersecurity to date. The Legislature’s $30 million investment created a competitive grant program to allow local governments to augment and improve their cybersecurity capabilities, harden their digital infrastructure, help mitigate threats, strengthen response efforts, and connect local governments to the Cybersecurity Operations Center. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez traveled across the state to promote and encourage local governments to apply for the grant program and visited eight counties throughout the application period. The program generated over 330 applications across 66 of 67 counties. The Florida Digital Service awarded 194 applicants across 56 counties, from first responders to government offices, with industry-leading capabilities from email security solutions to endpoint detection and response.
Florida maintains its position as the most military-friendly and veteran-friendly state in the nation. With over 1.5 million veterans in the state, Governor DeSantis continues to lead a mission-driven approach that always puts service members first. To further highlight Florida’s record investments in military and veteran affairs, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez launched her own initiative, LG on Mission. This initiative is dedicated to meeting with veterans and military personnel across the state to discuss how the administration can continue to put their needs and their family’s needs at the forefront.
Over the past year, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez has heard from military service members and veterans from Pensacola to Key West. In October, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez was joined by Florida National Guard Adjutant General John Haas, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director James “Hammer” Hartsell, Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino, State Senator Danny Burgess, and State Representative Michelle Salzman to recognize the administration’s significant investments to support our service members and veterans. The discussion provided ample opportunity to continue identifying important policy and budget issues to serve those who serve.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez has also visited several of Florida’s veteran nursing homes. These visits provide the Lieutenant Governor with tremendous perspective on the needs of our veterans, many of whom are World War II heroes. Governor DeSantis announced funding to begin the construction of the ninth State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Collier County upon federal grant approval, making Florida the most state-funded system of veterans’ nursing homes in the nation and #1 in long-term care for our veterans.
This holiday season, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez announced Holiday Letters to Heroes to encourage Florida’s K–8 students to write holiday letters to the men and women who are deployed or on state active duty in the Florida National Guard. Through her initiative, LG on Mission, the Lieutenant Governor partnered with the Florida Department of Education and the Florida National Guard to collect and send letters to support military service members. The more than 31,000 student letters shared a message of support, appreciation, and holiday cheer to those serving in the Florida National Guard.
In anticipation of Hurricane season, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez highlighted Governor DeSantis’ largest tax relief package in Florida’s history that included and extended the annual disaster preparedness sales tax holiday from one to two separate 14-day holidays. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez urged Floridians to take advantage of the sales tax holiday and purchase supplies to prepare for any potential storms.
In August, Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 storm in Florida’s Big Bend. In the days leading up to Hurricane Idalia, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez supported state and local emergency management personnel by providing critical information to Floridians on public safety and the potential dangers of hurricane winds and storm surge. Immediately following landfall, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez visited the impacted counties and partnered with several state agencies to offer support and provide relief to impacted Floridians.
While traveling through the impacted counties, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez visited law enforcement officers, military personnel, and first responders who were working around the clock to support Florida’s recovery efforts to commend them for their bravery and sacrifice. She visited Urban Search and Rescue Teams including Florida Task Force 2, Florida Task Force 5, and Florida Task Force 7, and distributed meals to Florida Highway Patrol troopers. She also assisted Florida National Guard and Florida State Guard service members during their deployments. The Lieutenant Governor also joined Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue to serve meals to FDOT Cut and Toss crew members who worked long days and nights clearing roads, removing debris, and offering assistance to fiscally constrained counties that needed support in clearing local roads.
In partnership with Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo, the Florida Department of Health, and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the Lieutenant Governor led a press conference to inform Floridians on post-storm risks, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, flooding, diseases carried by mosquitos, and infections due to untreated wounds. The Lieutenant Governor and Surgeon General also visited Florida Department of Health mobile medical units as they provided emergency medical care, urgent care and primary health care services to Floridians.
The Lieutenant Governor also collaborated with the Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris to visit Family Resource Centers that were providing counseling and assistance with public benefits, and distributing essential supplies and items to impacted communities. Hope Florida, created by First Lady Casey DeSantis, also deployed Hope Navigators to provide services to Floridians in need at the Family Resource Centers.
In the wake of Hurricane Idalia, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez also visited schools impacted by the storm. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez, along with Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., visited schools in Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Levy, and Suwannee counties to support their recovery efforts. During the visits, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez surveyed damage at schools, assisted in providing the necessary resources districts needed, supported teachers and families as they worked to build back from the storm, toured classes and visited with teachers and students.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez worked with Secretary Michelle Branham and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to ensure seniors, one of our most vulnerable populations, were being adequately served. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez visited senior centers impacted by the storm and met with residents to better understand their immediate needs. She also visited a state-of-the-art evacuation center equipped with lifesaving capabilities for seniors with medical needs.
The Lieutenant Governor has continued to support the impacted counties throughout the past several months. In November, the Lieutenant Governor visited small businesses that have since recovered and reopened from the storm. She also joined America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend to distribute meals to more than 1,000 families for Thanksgiving, together with Senator Corey Simon and CEO of Volunteer Florida Josie Tamayo.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and Governor DeSantis have a long-standing friendship with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Over the last five years, Governor DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Nuñez have led the way in combating anti-semitism, fought back against the BDS movement, provided millions in security at Jewish day schools, funded Holocaust museums, enhanced Florida’s Holocaust curriculum, and proudly strengthened Florida’s cultural and economic ties to Israel with several trade missions to Israel. The Lieutenant Governor is proud to be part of an administration that unequivocally stands with the Jewish people in Florida and in Israel.
In May, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Israel’s Independence and reassured the South Florida Jewish community of the administration’s commitment to support and stand with Israel, our most valued and trusted ally in the Middle East.
This year, following the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists, Governor DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Nuñez took swift action to support Israel. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez joined Governor DeSantis in unveiling a legislative proposal to increase Florida’s sanctions against the Iranian regime, the world’s largest sponsor of global terrorism. Following a special session, Governor DeSantis signed the legislation to ensure that Florida never props up countries that support vile and hate-filled terrorist groups like Hamas.
Lieutenant Governor Nuñez showed her unwavering support for Israel and participated in numerous rallies across the state, condemning the terrorist attacks and demanding the safe return of all hostages. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez also partnered with Consul General Maor Elbaz-Starinsky to meet with local leaders and reaffirm Florida’s commitment to stand with the people of Israel.
Most recently, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez welcomed back eight Miami Beach firefighters who deployed and volunteered on a two-week mission to help the Jewish people in Israel. When the State of Florida needed their help the most after the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Israeli Defense Forces came to South Florida and offered their expertise and assistance. In turn, when cowardly terrorists attacked Israel, our first responders answered the call to lend them a helping hand.
For over a decade, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez has been working to combat human trafficking in Florida. This year, the Lieutenant Governor partnered with the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Hernando, Citrus and Pasco County sheriff’s offices to discuss their work to interdict illicit activity on Florida’s 12,000 miles of highway. Their efforts have cracked down on human trafficking, drug trafficking, and human smuggling.
Since its inception in 2014, the Lieutenant Governor has served on the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking and remains the longest-serving member of the Council. Within the Council, the Lieutenant Governor serves as the Chair of the Legislative and Special Initiatives Committee (LSI) which is charged with addressing legislative priorities and special initiatives to combat human trafficking. Through the LSI Committee, the Lieutenant Governor has worked with victims, law enforcement officials, state agencies, advocates, and stakeholders to understand and deal with this crime. This year, a key partner was Eduardo Verastegui, producer and actor of the film Sound of Freedom. The Lieutenant Governor joined Mr. Verastegui and the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking for a screening of the film and shared the administration’s efforts to put an end to this heinous crime. The Lieutenant Governor also participated in the 2023 Human Trafficking Summit hosted by Attorney General Ashley Moody. The Lieutenant Governor partnered with Terry Coonan, the Executive Director at the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University, and Rita Peters, the Assistant Statewide Prosecutor and Special Counsel at the Florida Office of the Attorney General, to discuss Florida at the ForeFront. The panelists described in detail Florida’s comprehensive approach to address and eliminate human trafficking that has proven to be a model for the nation.
Over the last five years, Governor DeSantis and Lieutenant Governor Nuñez have taken significant and meaningful action to combat human trafficking and protect vulnerable Floridians. This year, the Lieutenant Governor joined Governor DeSantis as he signed legislation to strengthen penalties for human traffickers, expand human trafficking awareness, and increase support and services for victims. Florida leads the nation in human trafficking laws, and we look forward to continuing in this fight.
This year, Lieutenant Governor Nuñez joined Florida’s Faith and Community Initiative Liaison Erik Dellenback to continue to connect with Florida’s faith leaders, faith institutions, and faith-based organizations. The Lieutenant Governor led a statewide faith and community call to thank them for their work, maintain a healthy line of communication, and be a resource to support their work throughout Florida. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez urged the faith community to continue working with the state of Florida and to boldly approach their faith with a renewed sense of purpose to serve one another in our schools, communities, and homes. Lieutenant Governor Nuñez also visited faith leaders in Volusia County to hear more about their ministries, their service, and opportunities to partner together to serve vulnerable Floridians.