A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery
As the nation recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in history, Florida continues to battle unprecedented fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls that have made business-as-usual in state government unsustainable. In response to this crisis, this report presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.
In this research report, TaxWatch looks at the success of the IMR program in California in an attempt to answer the question “what if IMR was in use in Florida?” TaxWatch is pleased to present policymakers and stakeholders with an independent analysis of a program we think may be helpful in keeping the costs of workers’ compensation insurance down while helping to ensure that injured workers receive appropriate treatment.
Find out all about what happened this Session with the TaxWatch Legislative Wrap Up.
As the Florida Legislature prepares to go into conference budget negotiations to finalize the FY2018-19 budget, state estimators gave lawmakers a bit of good news. Florida’s General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on February 9 and forecast that the state would collect an additional $461.8 million in FY2017-18 and FY2018-19.
Florida TaxWatch has compiled a comprehensive list of state and local tax and fees changes—increases and decreases--enacted by the Florida Legislature since 2010. It includes every new or eliminated tax or fee, changes to tax rates or fee levels, exemptions, credits, expanded bases and more.
The new Outlook forecasts that after funding a continuation budget, there will be $52.0 million in General Revenue (GR) left over, until the financial impacts of Hurricane Irma are considered.
The 2017 Florida Legislature passed a $82.418 billion General Appropriations Act (GAA), already the largest in the state’s history. But this is not all the money appropriated this year.
The 2017 Legislature will be facing a very tight budget year. After a string of three straight years with projected budget surpluses ranging from $336 million to $846 million, it is now estimated that during the next legislative session there will be just enough money to fund a continuation budget for FY2017-18. What’s more, significant budget shortfalls loom in subsequent years.
This report recommends the implementation of a “Judicial Safety Valve” that would give judges the discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums for low-level offenders, but maintain the rights of victims, offenders, their attorneys, and the state to have input on sentencing decisions at sentencing hearings.
To decrease recidivism and increase the return on state investment in corrections, offenders need to be able to find jobs and keep them; however, there are several barriers to this goal. This paper addresses some of these barriers and makes policy recommendations.
Pursuant to Article III, section 19(i) of the Florida Constitution, the Government Efficiency Task Force (“Task Force”) is pleased to submit its final recommendations to the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Legislative Budget Commission. The enclosed report includes 29 recommendations which, if implemented, will significantly improve the efficiency of government operations and will reduce the costs of government by more than $2 billion annually.
Florida can no longer rely on the outdated and inefficient policies of the past, and must begin to consider policies and practices that not only keep Floridians safe, but also address the two primary drivers of growth in the criminal justice system: overincarceration and recidivism. The recommendations detailed in this report, while by no means an exhaustive list of necessary improvements, aim to put Florida on the path to achieve these goals.
Each year, the Budget Turkey Report consists of only a very small percentage of the state budget and this year represented just over 0.1 percent. The $82.3 billion budget passed by the Florida House and Senate on March 11, 2016 contains 143 appropriations items worth $104.9 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys.
The House and Senate passed their respective state budgets for FY2016-17 with four weeks remaining in the 2016 Session. They will now go into the budget conference process to negotiate the differences. Conference meetings could start as early as this week (the week of February 22).
Florida legislators received news this week that they will have $395.6 million less to spend on the next state budget than originally anticipated. Citing weaker corporate profits and adverse developments in the international economy, the state General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference decreased its estimates of GR collections in each of the six years in its forecast horizon.
A reduction in the BRT would be broad-based, benefiting a large number of businesses. All businesses that rent commercial real estate pay the sales tax on those rents, regardless of their profitability or financial shape. Reducing the sales tax would help be a significant help to struggling companies. It would also help new businesses, who may find that other startup costs rule out purchasing real estate as an option.
This report, the third in the last two years on the subject from TaxWatch, looks at the next steps for policy changes in Florida, and compares Florida's policies with those of California, Texas, and New York.
With Florida's crime rate at its lowest point in nearly five decades, this report recommends policy improvements to reduce cost and improve the efficacy of the criminal justice system. The data from the report show the contrast between Florida's falling crime rate and rising prison population.
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.
The Center for Government Efficiency defines government efficiency as the intersection of cost avoidance, targeted investments and effective governance, three characteristics that define the recommendations included in this year's report, which could save Florida taxpayers billions of dollars.
Florida lawmakers need to act quickly to connect patients with higher quality, timely care by using telehealth to bring the state's health policies into the 21st century, according to recommendations from this report, which notes that policymakers should immediately pursue incremental adoption of telehealth policies during the 2015 session.
Florida's prison population is rapidly increasing despite declining crime rates, and this report recommends options to prevent increasing costs from overwhelming taxpayers. The report warns that the steadily growing elderly prison population in state facilities will require more costly medical care, resulting in additional budget concerns for an already struggling Department of Corrections.
Florida could save significant corrections costs by reducing prison sentences for nonviolent offenders, according to data analysis in this report. The report calls for the state to review options to reduce the prison population through downgrading offenses and implementing alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent, level one and two offenders.
Florida TaxWatch commends the Legislature for passing and Governor Scott for signing the first tax relief bill of the 2014 Legislative Session to reduce vehicle registration fees for all Floridians. This good bill will put up to $25 back in the pockets of each Florida driver and is a great way to make sure all Floridians benefit from broad tax relief. As a part of Governor Scotts "Its Your Money Tax Cut" that has been wisely embraced by the Legislature, reducing these vehicle registration fees will save Floridians $394.5 million annually.
Since voters approved a 2002 Constitutional Amendment to reduce class sizes, taxpayers have spent more than $27 billion (including capital facilties and operating costs) to comply with the law, despite research that shows smaller class sizes do not result in higher achievement levels for students in grades 4-12. According to this report, changing the calculations for determining class size restrictions would better serve students and could save taxpayers $10 billion over ten years.