Budget Watch - New GR Estimates Reduced Slightly
HURRICANE MICHAEL BUDGET AMENDMENTS NOW TOTAL $443 MILLION; MORE THAN $200 MILLION IN CORPORATE INCOME TAXES COULD BE REFUNDED
The eagerly awaited final General Revenue (GR) estimates to be used for the next state budget are out. Legislators and appropriations lobbyists were hoping for an infusion of cash to ease a tight budget year, made even tighter by hurricane-related costs and the competing costly priorities of the Governor and legislative leaders. Well, that did not happen. The estimates did not change much, decreasing by a total of $7.4 million. This follows the December 2018 GR Conference which had adopted the largest estimate increase in more than 10 years: $842 million.
In a rather uncommon result, a significant increase in the current year was offset by a similar decrease in the next year. The General Revenue Estimating Conference increased the revenue projections by $201.3 million in in FY2018-19 but decreased the estimate for FY2019-20 by $208.7 million. Any unspent revenue from the current year will be carried forward, making it available for new budget. This means the 2019 Legislature will have an $7.4 million less in GR collections for the next state budget than was previously expected (December 2018 estimates). In addition, another nearly $300 million in hurricane- related budget amendments have been spent since the last estimates. Meaning total available GR is $300.6 million less than estimated in December.
Total GR collections for FY2018-19 are now estimated $32.907 billion, $1.7 billion (5.4 percent) more than actual FY2017-18 collections. FY2019-20 revenues are now expected to grow by modest $599.9 million (1.8 percent), which would be the smallest annual growth in 11 years. Longer-term, annual growth of 4.3 percent, 3.6 percent, and 3.1 percent is now expected during the following three years (through FY2023- 24). All of these long-term estimates were reduced by the new conference.