2020 Florida Taxpayers Voter Guide

To the 2020 Constitutional Amendments

/ Categories: Research, Voter Guides

Florida TaxWatch is honored to provide this service to the taxpayers of Florida in order to help educate voters on the issues before them on this year’s ballot. The 2020 Voter Guide details the six amendments on the November 3, 2020 ballot, provides a TaxWatch recommendation of which way to vote, and the reasoning for each recommendation. 

Amendment 2: Florida's $15 Minimum Wage Initiative

/ Categories: Research, Voter Guides

In this report, Florida TaxWatch examines the potential impacts of raising Florida’s minimum hourly wage to $15 on Florida businesses and taxpayers. Like many amendments, the increased minimum wage comes with both positive and negative impacts. While it would help lift many workers out of poverty and increase wages even for those not making minimum wage, it would also increase the cost of doing business in the state, and the cost of being a consumer in the state.

TaxWatch COVID-19 Taxpayer Task Force

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

Made up of public policy professionals, tax and budget experts, and leaders of both small and large businesses, the Task Force was established to identify those areas of state tax policy that could be addressed both immediately and in the long term to provide Florida’s businesses—and their employees and customers—appropriate relief and assistance.

General Revenue Estimates for the Current Budget Year Reduced by $3.4 Billion

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

After 128 months of economic expansion through February 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic brought on the largest post-war contraction in U.S. history. With the resulting closure or slowdown of businesses, record unemployment, and a loss of tourism, Florida’s economy is suffering. The impact on government revenue has been and will continue to be profound. The General Revenue Estimating Conference met on August 14 and reduced the revenue projections by $3.420 billion in the current budget year and $1.994 billion in FY2021-22. This follows news that actual collections in FY2019-20 fell $1.9 billion short of the estimate. 

Budget Watch - COVID-19 Impact

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

As Florida continues its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has released General Revenue (GR) collections data for June (the last month of the FY19-20 fiscal year).1 Collections came in $427.8 million (13.4 percent) below estimate, following losses of $878.1 million (29.4 percent) in April and $779.6 million (26.4) percent in May. Because collections were running a bit above estimate before the pandemic hit, the $2.1 billion loss in the last quarter puts Florida down $1.9 billion (5.7 percent) for the year. 

Education Leadership Roundtable Summary Report 2020

/ Categories: Research, Education

On May 14, 2020, Florida TaxWatch held a virtual roundtable discussion composed of nine current winners of TaxWatch’s prestigious Principal Leadership Award to discuss ways to improve the overall quality of pre-K–12 education by improving the leadership qualities of our principals. Moderated by our Vice President for Research Bob Nave, the panel discussed obstacles to effective school leadership; ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers; professional development for principals; how to get the most from teachers; and principal autonomy. TaxWatch is pleased to present this summary report and its recommendations, and we look forward to a continued discussion with Florida lawmakers and policymakers in advance of the 2021 legislative session.

The Suncoast Connector: What We Still Need to Know

/ Categories: Research, Transportation

Florida recently began one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects in modern Florida history: the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program.  

While much remains unknown about the specifics of the Suncoast Parkway (including the exact route of the road) this Florida TaxWatch report examines the potential costs and long-term financial challenges and obligations of constructing the Suncoast Connector portion of the M-CORES program. Essentially, this analysis focuses on the need for, cost of, and revenue potential from the Suncoast Connector toll road as an expansion of Florida’s Turnpike System.  

2020 Taxpayers Guide to the FY2020-21 Florida State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

After deducting the Governor’s vetoes, the net result is FY2020-21 appropriations totaling $92.270 billion, still a $1.3 billion increase over the previous year. As is usually the case, it is the largest state budget in history. In addition to many facts and figures explaining this year’s budget, past data are also provided to put it in historical context. We hope this annual budget pocket guide gives you the information you need to better understand where and how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.

Budget Watch - General Revenue $1.455 Billion Below Estimate

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of May came in $779.6 million (26.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from the new Monthly Revenue Report, just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 It is somewhat surprising that the amount by which May GR collections fell short of the previous estimates is less than that of April ($878.1 million). May collections largely reflect sales activity in April, a month that was almost entirely under the statewide ‘Safer at Home’ order.

Bringing Florida's Budget Back From COVID-19

A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Cost Savings

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.

2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The report promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting. 

Budget Watch - April's General Revenue Collections Come in $878 Million Below Estimate for the Month

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Net General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of April came in $878.1 million (29.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from a new Monthly Revenue Report just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 This is the first month of data to show a significant decrease in revenues due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. April GR collections generally reflect March sales tax activity, so the decline in May collections (reflecting April sales) will be much larger.

Telehealth in Florida: Where We Are and What is Next

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

Telehealth is being practiced in Florida every day pursuant to the standards of practice for telehealth adopted by the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. These standards require a Florida license and provide that the standards of care shall remain the same regardless of whether healthcare services are provided in person or by telehealth. There is no shortage of licensed physicians willing to provide telehealth in Florida. Florida statute 456.47, enacted in 2019, is the governing language for the practice of telehealth in Florida. Currently, health insurance companies are not required to pay or reimburse telehealth services, they do so on a voluntary basis pursuant to Florida statutes

Taxpayer Independence Day 2020

Floridians’ tax burden is going to decrease but so is our ability to pay for it

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

Every year, right around the usual April 15 deadline to pay your federal taxes, Florida TaxWatch releases our Taxpayer Independence Day report. This marks the symbolic date that Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the government. This assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations. This measure of tax burden is based on the relative size of all taxes paid in Florida to our state’s total personal income and serves as a gauge for how fast government is growing versus our ability to pay for it. 

State and Local Funding Under the CARES Act

/ Categories: Research

In two dashboards, we explored the distribution of $150 billion in federal aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the different states and to qualifying local governments. Each state is allocated an amount proportional to its population size with at least $1.25 billion guaranteed regardless of population share. In addition, local governments with populations over 500,000 can also claim up to 45% of the amount allocated for their population, while the other 55% is retained by the state to serve that same population. Also, a second dashboard shows the distribution among Florida’s qualifying local governments.

Florida's Top Public Employers by County

/ Categories: Research

This Florida TaxWatch Briefing analyzes the significance of public employment in Florida by breaking down the ten largest employers per county (by number of employees) based on whether they are public or private entities. Public entities fall under four levels: federal, state, county, and municipal governments. Of the 670 entities statewide, 280 are public and 390 are private. 

BRIDG: Growing Florida's Advanced Manufacturing Sector

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development

BRIDG was established as a not-for-profit, public-private partnership with support from state and local governments and leading manufacturing industry companies. For the 2019-20 fiscal year, state funding for BRIDG was withheld. BRIDG has the potential to generate thousands of high-skill, high-wage jobs, with billions of dollars in total earnings and hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues. BRIDG has the potential to establish Central Florida as a major hub, if not THE major hub, for information technology research, innovation, and manufacturing in the world. Florida TaxWatch presents this report in hope that the Governor and Legislature will continue its investment in BRIDG for fiscal year 2020-21 and beyond. 

An Independent Analysis of the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) and its Impacts on Florida’s Medicaid Program

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

Florida TaxWatch has undertaken an independent review to assess the impacts of certain key changes proposed by MFAR that would have a far-reaching and dramatic impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, Florida’s safety-net providers, the 3.8 million Medicaid-eligible Floridians, and Florida taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present this summary report and its recommendations, and we look forward to a continued discussion with Florida lawmakers and policymakers.

2020 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps

The bills passed by the 2020 Legislature included many recommended or supported by Florida TaxWatch research. The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.

What’s In and What’s Out of the Final 2020 Tax Package

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

The 2020 tax package (HB 7097) was amended many times as it moved through the process. At first, it grew topping $230 million in tax savings at one point. Then, citing a need to keep more money in reserves for COVID-19 response, it started getting smaller. The following is a description of all the provisions that were in the many versions of HB 7097. This report starts with what’s in the final and follows with what dropped out along the way.

 

Session Spotlight - Provisions in the House Tax Package & Corresponding Senate Legislation

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

It appears the 2020 Legislature will cut taxes again. As has been a recent practice, the House Ways & Means Committee developed a package of tax cuts and other tax-related provisions, while the Senate has moved individual tax bills through committee. We likely will not see the Senate’s full tax proposal until the House bill (HB 7097) reaches the Senate floor and it offers an amendment. 

HB7087 — Proposed Merger of SUS Institutions

/ Categories: Research, Education

HB 7087, upon becoming law, would require the Boards of Trustees of Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly), New College of Florida (New College), and the University of Florida (UF) to submit to applications for merger to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSSCOC). Upon approval of the mergers, New College and Florida Poly would become part of UF and specified items and assets of New College and Florida Poly would be transferred to UF.

12345678910Last