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. 

Florida's FY2022-23 State Budget

Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present taxpayers with a guide to the FY2022-23 state budget, which went into effect July 1, 2022. The report includes all appropriations for the new fiscal year— the General Appropriations Act (GAA), “back-of-bill” spending, and general bills—net of the Governor’s vetoes.

2022 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

The 2022 legislative session is over, even if it ran a little long. Florida TaxWatch and the state’s taxpayers had a number of successes. Many bills and budget issues supported by our research and recommendations passed. Our research and input that raised concerns with legislation, helped to improve them or fail passage, including changes to the tax audit system and a very costly approach to improving data privacy

A River (No Longer) Runs Through It

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment

This timely public policy debate centers on whether the dam and reservoir should remain in place or whether the dam should be breached to restore the natural flow of the Ocklawaha River. The “full retention” alternative would essentially maintain the status quo, while the “partial restoration” alternative would restore the river flow to near preconstruction conditions with limited removal of existing structures at the lowest cost. For each of these two alternatives, Florida TaxWatch examines the recreational,  economic, and environmental impacts.

A Rising Tide Sinks All Homes - The Effects of Climate Change on Florida's Economy

With more than 8,400 miles of coastline and a flat, low-lying coastal topography, Florida is especially vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. Tens of thousands of Florida homes and businesses are at increased risk from sea level rise. Much of Florida’s critical infrastructure is at low elevations, designed and built with little consideration of future sea level rise. The physical effect of changing climate translates into real economic impacts.

Red Tide Mitigation Using Southern Hard Clams

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment

Each year more than 100 million tourists visit Florida, attracted by its theme parks and attractions, comfortable year-round weather, water-related recreational activities, and state and national parks. The importance of healthy Florida beaches and inland waterways to the state’s economy cannot be overstated.

Analyzing the Fiscal Impact of the Energy Deregulation Constitutional Amendment

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Energy/Environment, Local Government, Voter Guides

A proposed constitutional amendment initiative that would destructure Florida’s energy market may appear on the November 2020 general election ballot that would (if approved) radically change Florida’s energy market.  This independent analysis estimates the financial impacts of deregulation on tax revenues and to help Florida taxpayers better understand the effects of the proposed deregulation.

Budget Watch - 2016-17 Legislative Budget Requests

Florida’s state government agencies have requested $77.835 billion in funding from the Legislature for FY2016-17, which is $1.2 billion (1.6 percent) more than these agencies are expected to spend in the current year. The total request is made up of $29.481 billion in general revenue (GR) and $48.354 billion in trust funds. The GR request is an increase of $854.5 million (3.0 percent). The latest revenue estimates forecast $31.653 billion in GR will be available for FY2016-17 meaning that the agency requests would leave GR reserves of $2 billion.

Squeezing the Greening out of Florida Citrus

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment
Florida's world-renowned, $10 billion citrus industry is an important sector of the state economy, providing thousands of jobs and capital to agricultural regions. As the nation's largest supplier of citrus, the success of this industry is vital to Florida's diversified economy.

An Analysis of the Florida Municipal Power Agency Audit

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment, Cost Savings

The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) was established in 1978 to provide competitively priced, reliable power and value-added services for its member municipalities. Concern over higher rates has caused some FMPA member municipalities to “break ranks” in pursuit of lower power rates. This report looks at the FMPA, and the oversight, or lack thereof, that currently exists.

Budget Watch - House and Senate Proposed Budgets

A more than $4 billion dollar difference between the House and Senate budget proposals is detailed in this annual analysis of the initial budgets, which shows that the largest point of contention between the chambers is in funding the health and human services portion of the budget.

The Lionfish: Threatening Native Fish and Florida's Fishing Industries

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment, Tourism

The lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, is an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean that devours native fish and competes for food with native predators, and represents a threat to several important industries in Florida, including sport and commercial fishing, and to the health of coral reefs and the biodiversity in our waters.

The Rise of Commuter Rail in Florida

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Energy/Environment, Transportation
Commuter train projects in Florida have generated some economic activity and job growth in Central and South Florida, though major concerns exist for taxpayers around the state, according to this Economic Commentary. The report highlights Orlandos new SunRail project and South Florida's All Aboard Florida commuter rail line, expected to begin operating in 2016.

Economic Impact Evaluation of a Proposed Honeybee Research and Extension Laboratory in Florida

A new honeybee research facility could make Florida a global leader in agricultural research and is estimated to return more than $1 million in state tax revenue to Florida. The proposed facility, to be established at the University of Florida, would attract research revenue as well as help recruit and retain top researchers and students.

Budget Watch - Governor's Proposed Budget - FY2014-15

Highlights from Governor Rick Scott's proposed budget plan for FY 2014-15 are featured in this Budget Watch Report. The $74.20 billion spending plan is slightly lower than current year spending, even as lawmakers are expected to have their first budget surplus in many years.

Modern Management & Sensible Savings

This Report, from the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency, highlights more than $1 billion in savings for Florida taxpayers, without reducing state-provided services. The six comprehensive recommendations included in the Report address replacement of the state's accounting system; information technology governance, procurement and state asset management; pension reform; criminal justice reform; state health insurance reforms; and revenue maximization.

Florida's Revenue Opportunities Under Sec 179D

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Energy/Environment, Transportation, Cost Savings
Florida is neglecting millions of dollars in federal tax incentives, according to this Briefing. Federal legislation allows for tax deductions to offset the cost of energy efficient new buildings or building renovations, which result in added value to the state. TaxWatch recommends the state identify public buildings that could receive the tax deduction.

Economic Commentary: Florida Businesses and Local Governments Invest In CNG

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Energy/Environment, Transportation
According to this Economic Commentary, Florida consumes more than 728 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually, 85 percent of which is used by electric utilities. Further, 59 of Florida's 67 counties have natural gas services available for industrial, commercial and residential use. While Floridians have taken advantage of the benefits of natural gas for electricity purposes, this alternative fuel may provide ample opportunities for both commercial and personal transportation developments.

Economic Commentary: Florida's Gulf Research Cooperation

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Energy/Environment, Transportation
For the past three years, 10 Florida universities and research institutions have been focused on researching the long-term effects of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico's marine life, environment, and public health. This month's Economic Commentary focuses on three Florida university-led entities' recent research findings and developments, and how these findings make our state stand out in the scientific arena.

Bringing FL-SOLARIS to Life

According to this Briefing, progress on the organization of state-owned lands and facilities records has been made, although there is more to be done. The large, yet basic database has been established, but the important tasks of maintaining its relevance and making improvements remain. Phase II of this project offers significant taxpayer value.
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