Time Delays and Lack of Guidance Complicating Local CARES Act Relief

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When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately written, there will likely be a chapter addressing how the impact of a well-intentioned federal relief package called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was somewhat hobbled by its roll-out and the ultimate disbursement of public assistance.

Estimate of Florida Transportation Revenues Reduced by $1.5 Billion over the Five-Year DOT Program

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The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on state transportation funding.  The new forecast from the Transportation Revenue Estimating Conference, predicts the state will collect nearly $1.5 billion less than expected in state transportation revenues through FY2025-26.  This is a reduction of 5.7 percent.  These funds are deposited into the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF) to pay for the DOT work program.

AHCA Warns Medicaid Costs Could Soar Due to COVID-19

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Florida’s Medicaid program is projecting a significant shortfall (approximately $1 billion) in the 2020-2021 budget due to the ballooning Medicaid enrollment (largely due to the impacts of COVID-19). As more and more Floridians lose their jobs and their health coverage due to the economic downturn, many turn to Medicaid as their form of healthcare Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) forecasts that there will be an additional 437,390 Floridians turning to Medicaid for their health care in the coming new fiscal year, which starts July 1. The increase in enrollment could potentially increase the overall cost in the coming year by as much as $3 billion; however, the state is not on the hook to cover the full $3 billion due to the federal-state partnership for Medicaid financing, formally known as the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP). Florida is expected to pay about $1.07 billion of the $3 billion, based on AHCA’S analysis.

The Importance of the Clean Waterways Act

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In the 2020 legislative session, SB 712 (The Clean Waterways Act) was passed outlining protection to much of Florida’s vast water resources, including implementing Florida TaxWatch recommendations for the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Water is Florida’s most valuable resource, providing many environmental, economic, and recreational benefits the public. With more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers, more than 1,000 springs, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, it is a staple of Florida’s identity and one of the key reasons so many people visit the Sunshine State.  The Clean Waterways Act addresses several environmental issues, including several provisions focused on water quality improvement and oversight.

Sales Tax Holiday

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The 2020 Florida Legislature enacted two more sales tax holidays, a three-day “back-to-school” and a seven-day disaster preparedness tax holiday.  Although the pending threat from the COVID-19 virus lead to the Legislature eliminating nearly all the tax cuts they were considering, the popularity of sales tax holidays was affirmed once again. From May 29-June 4, items to help Floridians prepare for hurricane season, such as flashlights, portable two-way or weatherband radios, waterproof sheeting, generators, and tie-down kits will be exempt from sales sax.  This will save Floridians an estimated $5.6 million.

VISIT FLORIDA Extended When we Need it Most

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In the most recent legislative session VISIT FLORIDA’s future was uncertain. SB 362 extended its life for three more years and set its funding at $50 million. The extension that VISIT FLORIDA received is vital to Florida’s tourism industry and comes when we need it most due to the COVID-19 impacts on the state’s economy. Other states that have reduced or eliminated their tourism marketing efforts have experienced immediate and long-term negative economic impacts. Florida TaxWatch research has shown that continuous, targeted investment into Florida’s tourism industry is critical to our state’s success.

Expanding The Practice Authority for Florida’s Nurse Practitioners

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By 2030, Florida is expected to need an additional 4,671 primary care physicians. This shortage ultimately will result in limited access to care (especially in rural areas), higher healthcare costs, and reducing the quality of life for all. Floridians will start to experience the effects in the foreseeable future if a solution is not implemented. A proven cost-effective solution is to remove overly restrictive statutory barriers and allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

People are Fleeing High-Tax States for Florida and Bringing High Incomes with Them

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Florida has a history of trying to woo people and businesses to move to the Sunshine State, and it appears to be working.  In addition to its many other selling points, Florida has also had the reputation of being a low-tax state. Recent federal tax law changes have made our state even more attractive from a tax standpoint to many Americans. 

SGIP Review Saves Taxpayers Millions

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With an audit nearing completion, state DMS reported today that 1,825 ineligible dependents have been dropped from the SGIP, saving close to $9.5 million.

Lake Okeechobee Isn't The Whole Story

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The water quality problems in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River estuaries will not be solved by solely focusing on discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Borrower Defense Rule Delayed

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New federal rules to expand federal student loan forgiveness for certain borrowers have been suspended by the U.S. Department of Education, pending further review.

New Charter Schools Report Shows Gains

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According to a July 2017 report by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Florida’s charter school sector is one of the largest and fastest-improving in the nation.
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