Under the leadership of Governor Bob Martinez, participants in the Governor Bob and Mary Jane Martinez Citizenship Institute at Florida TaxWatch (Citizenship Institute) will learn firsthand from Florida’s most influential policy leaders and business executives about how state and local government policies impact their business and community, and how to make sure their voice is heard and respected.

The Citizenship Institute is an applied learning program that prepares participants to better understand how government actions affect their businesses.

Participants receive 3-4 days of intensive instruction from current or former agency heads, legislators, distinguished university professors, and other state and local officials, as well as Florida’s 40th Governor Bob Martinez.

By limiting the class size to 15- 20 of Florida’s up-and-coming business and community leaders, the Citizenship Institute is far more instructive and hands-on than traditional “leadership” programs.

By providing participants the unique opportunity to discuss relevant policy issues with government and political leaders that have extensive real-world experience, participants gain a better understanding of how to engage government officials and have their voices heard; how their tax dollars are appropriated and used by government; and how to navigate through the myriad licensing and permitting requirements and government regulations that can strangle businesses.

Topic & Activities


Session 1 focuses on the structure of state and local governments, and how business and government interact. Participants will learn and practice how to make the most of their limited time with government officials. 
Discussion topics include:
  • Local Government Perspectives on Business
  • How Floridians Vote
  • Key Players to Know
  • Key Legislative Issues Facing Florida Businesses
  • How to Have Your Voice Heard and Respected by Government Officials


Session 2 focuses on how state and local governments collect taxes and develop annual budgets, and how the personal and business taxes paid by participants are appropriated and spent.
Discussion topics include:
  • Florida’s Long-range Economic Outlook
  • Overview of State Budgeting and Taxation
  • Local Government Funding Sources & Budget Development
  • Public Schools Funding Sources & Budget Development
  • Revenue Collection & Distribution


Session 3 focuses on the myriad local, state, and federal permitting requirements and regulations, and how participants will navigate through this maze when starting or expanding their business.
Discussion topics include
  • Regulating Businesses and Professions
  • Expanding Your Business’ Footprint – Local Planning & Permitting
  • Expanding Your Business’ Footprint – Regional, State & Federal Considerations
  • Business Development and Incentives for Business Growth


Participants are given an opportunity to apply what they learn through a series of practical exercises. Session 1 participants will have an opportunity to research a public issue and role play with a government official.
In Session 2, participants will learn the difficulties of balancing the state budget in an interactive group exercise.
In Session 3, participants will have an opportunity to participate in an economic development role-playing exercise and a land development exercise (top right).