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 In the News (May 1 - 15)

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!

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Students First – HLE student one step closer to college (May 13, 2020)
Immokalee Bulletin
A fifth-grade student at Highlands Elementary School (HLE) is one step closer to college thanks to a two-year Florida Prepaid Scholarship she received as part of the Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Award program. Jennifer Aquayo-Narvaez was recommended for the scholarship by former HLE principal Dr. Laura Mendicino who received a 2019-2020 Principal Leadership Award through the organization.

What we know — and don’t know — about how coronavirus will affect Florida’s budget (May 13, 2020)
Tampa Bay Times
In Florida, education alone makes up about 52 percent of all general revenue spending, according to an analysis from Florida TaxWatch, a group that advocates for less government spending.
That makes schools a hard-to-miss target for lawmakers forced to cut. During the last recession, lawmakers slashed current-year budgets, forcing schools to give millions back after the money had been committed. Schools eliminated thousands of positions but avoided major layoffs when federal stimulus money came through.

Our Viewpoint: Start with the easy calls on COVID-19 budgeting (May 4, 2020)
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Later this month, when they have better numbers, Florida lawmakers will be back to re-write the spending plan for next year. Last month’s evaluation by Moody Analytics suggests that Florida’s budget hole could end up between $8 billion to $10 billion. That’s a significant chunk, given that the 2020-21 budget came in at $93 billion.
Without a doubt, lawmakers face tough decisions. But they shouldn’t all be difficult. In a report issued in mid-April, Florida TaxWatch identified two avenues for revenue that could, in the short term, put hundreds of millions back in state coffers.

This editorial is also featured on the websites of the following newspapers:

Toll revenue drop shows Floridians were staying home (May 2, 2020)
Tampa Bay Times
From Feb. 29 to March 27, Florida’s Turnpike saw a nearly 20 percent drop in traffic volume from the same time last year, with each week dropping more than the last, according to Florida TaxWatch, an advocacy group.

On March 27, the day with the fewest traffic in the period, the tollways saw a 51 percent drop from the same day as the year before.

“This data show that, even without the statewide stay-at-home order not yet in place, there were half as many vehicles on the Turnpike as there were on the same date last year,” a Florida TaxWatch email said Saturday.

Lafayette’s Hancock receives state-wide recognition (April 30, 2020)
Suwannee Democrat
Lafayette High School’s Stewart Hancock is one of the top principals in the state. And as a result of that recognition, a Lafayette High student has received an even bigger honor: a two-year college scholarship.

Hancock was one of nine principals across the state to receive a Florida Tax Watch Principal of the Year Leadership Award for the 2019-20 school year. The award, which has been given out annually since 2014, recognizes the most effective principals in high-risk K-12 public schools. In addition to recognizing those principals’ hard work, the award also promotes those individuals’ transformational practices that help to close the achievement gap that is seen in high-risk schools.

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