The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

Demographic Data for Businesses and the Census

/ Categories: Research, Blog

On Wednesday, August 31, Florida TaxWatch hosted a webinar “Demographic Data for Businesses & the Census” to discuss Florida’s population undercount in the 2020 Census, the impact this has on the business community, and efforts to secure more accurate data. During our webinar, we were joined by Mary Jo Hoeksema, Co-director of the Census Project; Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Founder and Director of Census Legacies; Susan Racher, Vice President and CFO of Wallace H. Coulter Foundation; and Ashley Dietz, President and CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network.

IDEAS IN ACTION—It is Well Past Time to Modernize Florida's Baker & Marchman Acts

Guest Column by State Representative Patt Maney

/ Categories: Research, Blog

Patt Maney is a retired brigadier general and former county court judge who has represented District 4 (Part of Okaloosa) in the Florida House of Representatives since 2020. Reforming Florida’s civil commitment laws was one of his primary motivators for seeking legislative office because as a judge, he presided over Baker Act hearings and witnessed the law’s various shortcomings.

How the Stop WOKE Act Will Impact Florida's Employers

/ Categories: Research, Blog

On Wednesday, August 17, Florida TaxWatch and the Gunster law firm co-hosted a webinar designed to help Florida businesses better understand and comply with the requirements of the Individual Freedom Act (also known as the “Stop WOKE” Act) passed by the 2022 Florida Legislature. Florida TaxWatch is grateful to Holly Goodman and Joseph Santoro of the Gunster law firm for sharing their insights on the effects of this controversial legislation on Florida businesses. Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present the following summary of the webinar.

IDEAS IN ACTION—Achieving Food Security for All Floridians Requires a Year-Round Commitment

/ Categories: Research, Guest Columns, Blog

When the pandemic began the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended free meals to school-age children all year long, including the summer months. The program will no longer be available at the end of this school year and many food insecure families are now facing a summer without school food assistance programs. The situation is made even more dire as inflation and the cost-of-living soars, leaving millions of individuals and families in critical need of year-round nutritional assistance. 

Breakfast Briefing on Property Insurance- A Special Session Primer

/ Categories: Research, Insurance, Blog

Florida is facing a property insurance crisis and the governor has called the legislature back to Tallahassee, May 23-27, to tackle the issue.  While the proposed bills to be discussed have not been filed yet, the Governor’s proclamation announcing the special session suggests areas that should be addressed, including reinsurance, building codes, litigation reform, and Citizens Property Insurance. Why is this such a pressing issue? 

“Why Human Trafficking Is More Than Just A Moral Issue.”

/ Categories: Research, Blog

January 2022 marked the 12th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Month. A recognized memorial since 2010, the designation seeks to raise human trafficking awareness and educate the public about the crime’s heinous impact on millions of people across the world. Given the criminal enterprise nature of human trafficking, there is also an inherent economic cost to communities and the state of Florida when exploitation prevents victims from leading dignified, generative lives. What are the costs and implications of human trafficking in Florida?

What Benefits Cliffs Teach Us About Incentives

A Case Study on Florida Children’s Health Insurance

/ Categories: Blog

Throughout the U.S. and in Florida, a variety of federal and state public programs exist to provide economic stabilization and promote economic self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families with children. These public supports are often designed with specific income eligibility limits so that benefits phase out as an individual or family earns more. Although constructed to reduce reliance on public assistance over time while empowering families to move up the economic ladder, this program design can sometimes have the unintentional consequence of creating a “benefits cliff” that stifles upward mobility.

WORKING PAPER: Where Are The Women?

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Blog

This working paper is an endeavor to learn more about Florida’s labor force participation rate of women. Exploring reasons for women’s absence from the workforce can help Florida better understand the needs of its entire workforce. As a working paper, Florida TaxWatch hopes to start a discussion and encourage others to offer their insights about women’s absence from the workforce.

 

Despite Positive Job Growth In Recent Months, People Are Quitting Jobs At Record Rates

/ Categories: Research, COVID Recovery, Blog

Often overlooked in favor of more eye-catching employment headlines such as unemployment rates and job creation numbers, job quitting rates are an indispensable part of understanding the overall economic recovery. Newly released national data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveal the number of people quitting their jobs in November 2021 hit a record high of 4.5 million—far above any other level on record since data first started being recorded. Since the summer of 2021, a collective 21.3 million individuals have quit their jobs across the nation.

Debate in Public Schools

A Florida TaxWatch Commentary by Bob Nave (Vice President of Research)

/ Categories: Research, Education, Blog

 How can scholastic debate and the business community work together to drive Florida's students forward? One option is to look at existing programs, like the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Debate Initiative, which now boasts approximately 15,000 students in every high school and learning center, every middle school, and in more than 100 elementary schools. The Initiative is a partnership between BCPS and local businesses, whose sponsorships and donations are critical in supporting debate opportunities for BCPS students.

The 2021 B-T-S Sales Tax Holiday is here

/ Categories: Blog

Folks, the school year is right upon us. We are all about to get back into bus stop routines, bus stop traffic, haircuts, new shoes, and the ubiquitous school supplies. Luckily, thanks to a now-routine annual ritual, next week starts 10 days of many of those things being exempt from sales taxes. 

Did Florida Undercount in the 2020 Census, Potentially Missing Out on Federal Dollars?

/ Categories: Blog

The 2020 Census is finally over, capping off a historic effort to accurately count every person in the United States during a pandemic. A few interesting stories emerge from the latest enumeration of the nation, such as the growing population shift to the South and New York losing a congressional House seat by only 89 people. Although Florida was one of the so-called “winners” in the current census because it secured an additional seat in Congress, the result was not as spectacular as expected.

What is Inflation and How Does it Affect Taxpayers?

/ Categories: Blog

To many people, the word “inflation” conjures up distant memories to some obscure high school economics class rather than offer some deep insight into the inter-workings of the economy. The topic appears mysterious in nature (understandably so), known by few outside of economics circles. Read more.

What is a K-Shaped Recovery and Why It Matters

/ Categories: COVID Recovery, Blog

As the federal government continues to negotiate another round of fiscal stimulus, chances are you have heard the term “K-shaped recovery” thrown around. The issue became a common talking point during last year’s presidential election as some candidates discussed their plans to heal the economy. But what exactly is a K-shaped recovery and what does it have to do with the economy?

Time Delays and Lack of Guidance Complicating Local CARES Act Relief

/ Categories: Blog

When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately written, there will likely be a chapter addressing how the impact of a well-intentioned federal relief package called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was somewhat hobbled by its roll-out and the ultimate disbursement of public assistance.

Estimate of Florida Transportation Revenues Reduced by $1.5 Billion over the Five-Year DOT Program

/ Categories: Blog

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on state transportation funding.  The new forecast from the Transportation Revenue Estimating Conference, predicts the state will collect nearly $1.5 billion less than expected in state transportation revenues through FY2025-26.  This is a reduction of 5.7 percent.  These funds are deposited into the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF) to pay for the DOT work program.

AHCA Warns Medicaid Costs Could Soar Due to COVID-19

/ Categories: Blog

Florida’s Medicaid program is projecting a significant shortfall (approximately $1 billion) in the 2020-2021 budget due to the ballooning Medicaid enrollment (largely due to the impacts of COVID-19). As more and more Floridians lose their jobs and their health coverage due to the economic downturn, many turn to Medicaid as their form of healthcare Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) forecasts that there will be an additional 437,390 Floridians turning to Medicaid for their health care in the coming new fiscal year, which starts July 1. The increase in enrollment could potentially increase the overall cost in the coming year by as much as $3 billion; however, the state is not on the hook to cover the full $3 billion due to the federal-state partnership for Medicaid financing, formally known as the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP). Florida is expected to pay about $1.07 billion of the $3 billion, based on AHCA’S analysis.

The Importance of the Clean Waterways Act

/ Categories: Blog

In the 2020 legislative session, SB 712 (The Clean Waterways Act) was passed outlining protection to much of Florida’s vast water resources, including implementing Florida TaxWatch recommendations for the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Water is Florida’s most valuable resource, providing many environmental, economic, and recreational benefits the public. With more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers, more than 1,000 springs, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, it is a staple of Florida’s identity and one of the key reasons so many people visit the Sunshine State.  The Clean Waterways Act addresses several environmental issues, including several provisions focused on water quality improvement and oversight.

Sales Tax Holiday

/ Categories: Blog

The 2020 Florida Legislature enacted two more sales tax holidays, a three-day “back-to-school” and a seven-day disaster preparedness tax holiday.  Although the pending threat from the COVID-19 virus lead to the Legislature eliminating nearly all the tax cuts they were considering, the popularity of sales tax holidays was affirmed once again. From May 29-June 4, items to help Floridians prepare for hurricane season, such as flashlights, portable two-way or weatherband radios, waterproof sheeting, generators, and tie-down kits will be exempt from sales sax.  This will save Floridians an estimated $5.6 million.

VISIT FLORIDA Extended When we Need it Most

/ Categories: Blog

In the most recent legislative session VISIT FLORIDA’s future was uncertain. SB 362 extended its life for three more years and set its funding at $50 million. The extension that VISIT FLORIDA received is vital to Florida’s tourism industry and comes when we need it most due to the COVID-19 impacts on the state’s economy. Other states that have reduced or eliminated their tourism marketing efforts have experienced immediate and long-term negative economic impacts. Florida TaxWatch research has shown that continuous, targeted investment into Florida’s tourism industry is critical to our state’s success.

1234