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. 

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Florida TaxWatch News Clips (June 15 - 30)

Florida TaxWatch is constantly looking to spread the word about our research, recommendations, and programs, all in pursuit of serving each and every taxpayer in Florida. Below is just a selection of where we've popped up in the last few weeks!

As has been the case for decades now, the end of Session brings with it lots of activity for Florida TaxWatch and our watchdog role. This year was no exception as in the last three weeks we released two important reports for Florida taxpayers and the legislature:

2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report: this budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting.  

Bringing Florida's Budget Back From COVID-19: this roadmap for a responsible recovery presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.

PRINT & DIGITAL

Last Call 🥃 for 6.29.20 — A prime-time read 💻 of what's going down in Florida (June 29, 2020)
Florida Politics
The vetoes ranged from sturgeon farm and beef marketing cash to “Universities of Distinction” and guardian program funding. But most of them had one thing in common: They appeared on Florida TaxWatch’s 2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report.

Gov. DeSantis signs corona-impacted state budget; vetoes more than $1 billion (June 29, 2020)
Florida Politics
DeSantis also vetoed 518 of the 829 member projects included in the budget for a sum of more than $264 million. Of 180 veto recommendations made by budget watchdogs at Florida TaxWatch, 81% received the red pen.

State worker pay raise survives Florida governor's veto; other local projects get budget ax (June 29, 2020)
Tallahassee Democrat
Florida TaxWatch, a business-backed state spending watchdog, had called for delaying teacher and state worker raises, but only if the budget shortfall couldn't be resolved through any other means.

Gov. DeSantis strikes sturgeon farm funding from budget (June 29, 2020)
Florida Politics
According to government watchdog Florida TaxWatch, the final veto list included 518 member projects that combined to $264 million in funding.

Florida's budget now more than a billion below expected revenue due to COVID-19 (June 26, 2020)
WPTV
Budget watchdog Florida TaxWatch again urged the governor to follow its recommendations. In a statement, its CEO Dominic Calabro said he was confident the governor would use his veto power judiciously.

This news story was republished by:
WFTS
WTXL

DeSantis signs teacher pay raises into Florida law with bipartisan support (June 24, 2020)
Tampa Bay Times
Florida TaxWatch, a think tank that espouses small government spending, called on the governor to delay the $500 million program. When asked — repeatedly — about the expense, DeSantis hedged.

Despite budget hardships, Gov. DeSantis signs teacher pay raises (June 24, 2020)
Florida Politics
On Thursday, budget watchdogs at Florida TaxWatch released a plan to save the state $6 billion through vetos and legislative action were lawmakers to convene for a Special Session. The proposal included delaying pay raises until Jan. 1 or July 1, 2021, if necessary.

Behavioral health advocates hope to outlast budget slashes (June 21, 2020)
Florida Politics
A report last week from the Florida TaxWatch, independent state budget watchdogs, identified 180 member projects the organization says weren’t properly vetted by the Legislature. None of those programs targeted mental health and substance abuse programs.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Unintended consequences (June 20, 2020)
Florida Politics
The budget watchdog recommended budget cuts and government plans that could net the state $6 billion annually. That came after April’s revenue report showed an $878.1 million shortfall, mostly from sales tax receipt drops. While TaxWatch did not suggest a Special Session, there were policy recommendations including taking up e-fairness legislation so Florida collects tax for online commerce at the point of sale.

Sunburn — The morning 🌅 read of what’s hot 🔥 🔥 in Florida politics — 6.19.20 — Burnin’ today: Juneteenth, Tulsa, Biden, Brooks, DeSantis, RNC, Curry (June 19, 2020)
Florida Politics
State budget watchdogs are recommending elected officials take budget cuts and implement new plans that would save the state a net $6 billion annually. The Florida TaxWatch report comes the day after lawmakers delivered their $93.2 billion spending plan to DeSantis, who is expected to issue hundreds of million dollars in vetoes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fiscal Watchdog Says Proposals for Spending, Revenue Increases Could Save Florida $6 Billion (June 19, 2020)
Spectrum 13
In its new report 'Bringing Florida's Budget Back from Covid-19', Florida TaxWatch is advocating that lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis consider more than two dozen proposals to cut spending and increase revenue. If enacted, the group estimates they could conservatively save the state $6 billion.

As the state budget deadline looms July 1, key organizations ask DeSantis to deliver on long-awaited proposals (June 18, 2020)
Florida Phoenix
In addition to the 35 organizations signed by the letter,  another group, Florida TaxWatch,  released their own recommendations. TaxWatch also called for implementing a tax on remote sales, such as online and phone orders. However, those recommendations also suggest that DeSantis should postpone teacher pay raises at Florida’s public school.

Sunburn — The morning 🌅 read of what’s hot ☀️ in Florida politics — 6.18.20 — Burnin’ today: Casey DeSantis, Brooks, Chronister, Giménez, Curry, Bolton (June 18, 2020)
Florida Politics
Florida TaxWatch will host a virtual news conference for the release of its latest report, “Bringing Florida’s Budget Back from COVID-19: A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery,” which outlines major short and long-term budget and policy recommendations to ensure Florida’s strong and responsible recovery from the fiscal impacts the pandemic, 10:30 a.m.

TaxWatch Recommends Delaying Pay Raises (June 18, 2020)
Capitol News Service
Government watchdog Florida TaxWatch offered up a dozen ideas for balancing the budget in the wake of the pandemic.
They include collecting the tax already owed on internet sales to delaying more than $900 million in pay raises slated to take effect July first.

This news story was republished by:
WFLA

Not A Turkey After All? Florida TaxWatch Informs DeSantis Of Support For The Bluffs Industrial Complex In Cantonment
(June 18, 2020)
NorthEscambia.com
Last week, The Bluffs in Cantonment was included in the 2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report released by Florida TaxWatch in the think tank’s annual independent review of the state’s budget, and they recommended that Gov. Ron Desantis veto funding for the project.

Last Call 🥃 for 6.18.20 — A prime-time read 💻 of what's going down in Florida politics 🗳 (June 18, 2020)
Florida Politics
Florida TaxWatch recommends $6B in budget savings as 2020 fiscal year looms” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics
 

Florida TaxWatch calls on DeSantis to delay teacher, state worker raises to help balance budget (June 18, 2020)
The Center Square Florida
FTW, a Tallahassee-based taxpayer advocacy nonprofit, issued a series of budget-trimming recommendations Thursday for the pending state budget as well as policy changes it said could generate $6 billion annually for the state in its Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery plan.

Governor considers vetoes, while watchdog offers budget improvements (June 18, 2020)
WTSP CBS 10
Today, the nonpartisan Florida's TaxWatch unveiled A Roadmap for Responsible Recovery, and offered a list of recommendations that would offer $6 billion worth of items to improve the state's budget. 

Florida TaxWatch Unveils Plan to Help Economy Recover From Coronavirus Pandemic (June 18, 2020)
Florida Daily
On Thursday, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released a report offering recommendations on the state budget and to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. FTW unveiled “Bringing Florida’s Budget Back From COVID-19: A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery” as Gov. Ron DeSantis ponders using his line-item veto power.

Florida watchdog proposes delay of teacher raises as DeSantis mulls major budget cuts (June 18, 2020)
Scripps News/WPTV
The ed appropriations came after months of protest and lawmaker lobbying. But finance experts at Florida TaxWatch worry there isn’t enough room in the coming fiscal year to accommodate. The watchdog pushed the governor, Thursday, to postpone planned teacher and state worker raises until January of next year at least.

Florida TaxWatch suggests COVID-inspired trims to state budget, including postponing teacher raises (June 18, 2020)
The Florida Phoenix
Gov. Ron DeSantis can absorb some of the COVID-19 shock to state tax revenues by trimming next fiscal year’s budget of local projects, reducing travel, and postponing the governor’s teacher pay raises until the pandemic subsides, a government watchdog group said Thursday.

Florida TaxWatch recommends $6B in budget savings as 2020 fiscal year looms (June 18, 2020)
Florida Politics
State budget watchdogs are recommending elected officials take budget cuts and implement new plans that would save the state a net $6 billion annually.
The Florida TaxWatch report comes the day after lawmakers delivered their $93.2 billion spending plan to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to issue hundreds of million dollars in vetos because of the COVID-19 pandemic. April’s revenue report alone, which mostly included sales tax receipts from before the lockdown, already showed an $878.1 million shortfall

‘Veto equivalent of the Red Wedding’: Budget slashing to come this month (June 17, 2020)
Florida Politics
The Florida TaxWatch last week flagged $136.3 million from 180 “budget turkeys” that it says weren’t fully vetted in the Legislature’s plan. But on top of those budget items, the watchdog group recommended the Governor veto all member projects, even outside of the turkeys, unless it is vital to Floridians, such as health care projects.

State budget hits Ron DeSantis’ desk (June 17, 2020)
Florida Politics
The Florida TaxWatch last week flagged $136.3 million from 180 “budget turkeys” that it says weren’t fully vetted in the Legislature’s plan. But on top of those budget items, the watchdog group recommended the Governor veto each of the 829 member projects unless it is vital to Floridians, such as a health care project.

DESANTIS PROMISES BIG CUTS TO STATE BUDGET (June 16, 2020)
News Service of Florida
Last week, Florida TaxWatch called for cutting more than $136 million in projects from the proposed budget, while acknowledging that might be far less than what is needed.
TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro suggested that rather than additional cuts, lawmakers could require the collection of sales taxes on all goods purchased online by Floridians.

This story was republished in:
WJXT
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
WFOR
Orlando Weekly
WUSF
WLRN
WWSB

State budget cuts on the way following COVID-19 pandemic  (June 16, 2020)
WFTV
Florida TaxWatch recently issued a report of projects it refers to as “turkeys” -- $136 million dollars in projects that the legislature slid into the budget without proper vetting or outside normal channels. TaxWatch said those projects could get cut by the governor when he signs the budget into law.

Get ready for budget cuts (June 16, 2020)
Daytona Beach News-Journal
When Florida TaxWatch releases its annual list of questionable appropriations in Florida’s budget, it’s known as “the turkey list.” This year, it may as well be titled “the dead ducks.” Just about everything on the list — which includes $136.3 million in projects that were slipped into the budget outside the normal process and often without proper notice — is likely to be cut. And these turkeys will, most likely, only be the gravy to bigger appropriations targeted for slaughter.

This story was republished in:
News Chief
The Ledger
Palm Beach Post

Florida TaxWatch Recommends State Budget Cuts As Coronavirus Hits Revenues (June 15, 2020)
WUSF
Florida TaxWatch wants more than $136 million in projects cut from the proposed state budget, but the fiscal-watchdog group acknowledges that might be far less than what is needed because of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on state revenues.

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96.5 WDBO 
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WRDQ – Central Florida’s TV 27
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WFTX, FOX 4 Morning News
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WRDQ – Central Florida’s TV 27
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WECP, Local 18 News
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Bay News 9
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WPTV, To the Point With Michael Williams
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WTXL, ABC 27 News
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The Florida Channel, Capitol Update 
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