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. 

A Key to Overcoming Disasters: Complete Census Data Reinforces Resiliency

/ Categories: Research, Census, Economic Development, Hurricane Ian

Florida beaches are a treasure to the state, and as such, many residents strive to remain in close proximity to the shoreline. Statewide, 64.2 percent of employment and 79.2 percent of businesses are found within Florida’s 35 coastal counties.1 Unfortunately, the luring lifestyle of beaches comes at a cost; the homes and livelihoods of most Floridians are tied to areas susceptible to hurricane havoc.

Budget Watch – How Will the 2023 Legislature Handle a Record $13.5 Billion Budget Surplus?

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

As Florida TaxWatch has been detailing in our Budget Watch series,1 the state’s fiscal circumstances have been steadily improving since the initial shock (and resultant revenue loss) at the beginning of the pandemic. Even with historic state spending and tax cuts over the last two budgets, record reserves still exist. Florida’s tax system continues to produce revenue at a breakneck pace, with actual collections beating the estimate in each month over the last two year. Lately, the magnitude of the overage has been staggering. In the last three months of FY2021-22 (April-June), collections exceeded estimates by $2.545 billion (23.9 percent).

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools:

SMART Program Quarterly Report Review for the Quarter Ended June 30, 2022

/ Categories: Research, Education, Broward BOC

The Broward County Public Schools’ Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended June 30, 2022 (“District Quarterly Report”) provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of general obligation bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades, purchase music and arts equipment, improve school safety and security, upgrade athletic facilities, and renovate educational facilities.

A Comprehensive Guide to Florida's 2022 Constitutional Amendments

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide, Voter Guides

On November 8, 2022, Floridians will vote on three legislatively referred proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. At least 60 percent of the voters must vote in the affirmative for a proposed amendment to pass. This Florida TaxWatch Voter Guide is designed to provide Florida voters with information about each of the proposed amendments to help them cast well-informed votes.

Demographic Data for Businesses and the Census

/ Categories: Research, Blog

On Wednesday, August 31, Florida TaxWatch hosted a webinar “Demographic Data for Businesses & the Census” to discuss Florida’s population undercount in the 2020 Census, the impact this has on the business community, and efforts to secure more accurate data. During our webinar, we were joined by Mary Jo Hoeksema, Co-director of the Census Project; Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Founder and Director of Census Legacies; Susan Racher, Vice President and CFO of Wallace H. Coulter Foundation; and Ashley Dietz, President and CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network.

IDEAS IN ACTION—It is Well Past Time to Modernize Florida's Baker & Marchman Acts

Guest Column by State Representative Patt Maney

/ Categories: Research, Blog

Patt Maney is a retired brigadier general and former county court judge who has represented District 4 (Part of Okaloosa) in the Florida House of Representatives since 2020. Reforming Florida’s civil commitment laws was one of his primary motivators for seeking legislative office because as a judge, he presided over Baker Act hearings and witnessed the law’s various shortcomings.

Building a Culture of Success: What Effective Principals Do

The 2022 Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards Roundtable Discussion Summary and Findings

/ Categories: Research, Education

Among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school, leadership is perhaps second only to classroom instruction. Furthermore, the impact of leadership tends to be the greatest in schools where the learning needs of students are most acute.

Florida Workforce Update

/ Categories: Research

A robust economy is a staple for securing high tax revenue and boosting the well-being of taxpayers. Although Florida’s economy enjoys a strong rebound with historically low unemployment, the dynamic of its workforce has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, shuffling where opportunities lie and surfacing new challenges.

How the Stop WOKE Act Will Impact Florida's Employers

/ Categories: Research, Blog

On Wednesday, August 17, Florida TaxWatch and the Gunster law firm co-hosted a webinar designed to help Florida businesses better understand and comply with the requirements of the Individual Freedom Act (also known as the “Stop WOKE” Act) passed by the 2022 Florida Legislature. Florida TaxWatch is grateful to Holly Goodman and Joseph Santoro of the Gunster law firm for sharing their insights on the effects of this controversial legislation on Florida businesses. Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present the following summary of the webinar.

FY2021-22 Revenue Collections Beat Estimate by $3.8 Billion

New General Revenue Estimates Add Another $5.3 Billion to Amount Available for the Next Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on August 16, 2022, to develop the state’s new forecast for general revenue (GR) collections. After the close of FY2021-22, which wildly exceed revenue expectations, the REC increased the estimates for FY2022-23 and 2023-24 by a total of $5.3 billion.

ARE BIG PROPERTY VALUE INCREASES GOING TO MEAN BIG TAX INCREASES?

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

Florida’s housing market is raging, with growth in property values not seen since the housing bubble. Property appraisers certified the state’s taxable value for 2022 on July 1 and these values are currently being used by local governments and school districts in setting new property tax rates and developing budgets for FY 2022-23. The growth in property values has set the stage for what could be significant tax increases for Florida’s citizens and businesses.

Looking Back at Census 2020: What Florida’s Business and Community Leaders Need to Know

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Economic Development

An undercount is nothing new to Florida, but its current persistence inflicts costs more formidable than in previous years.  Throughout the decade, Floridians can expect to lose between $11 billion and $21 billion. The decennial Census count and American Community Survey (ACS) help communities understand local patterns of population growth, specialized workers, income, employment statuses, and transportation needs.

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.

BUILT FOR SUCCESS: MANUFACTURING’S ROLE IN FLORIDA’S ECONOMY

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development

Advancing Florida’s standing on the global stage requires a state economy conducive to innovation, capable of withstanding disruptions, and constantly cultivating talent. A robust manufacturing sector stands at the crossroads of these priorities and, as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, the sector’s importance cannot be understated.

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools: Q3 2021-22

SMART Program Quarterly Report Review for the Quarter Ended March 31, 2022

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC

In early June, Florida TaxWatch received the Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended March 31, 2022 (“Quarterly Report”). This report provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of general obligation bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades, purchase music and arts equipment, improve school safety, upgrade athletic facilities, and renovate educational facilities.

The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Education and Training Beyond High School in Florida

/ Categories: Research, Education

In 2019, with the SAIL to 60 Initiative, Florida aimed for 60 percent of working-age Floridians to hold a workforce specialization, whether from a certificate, credential, training, or degree. Currently, Florida has yet to reach this goal, falling 791,000 people short, and its individual populations are working toward the goal at incomparable rates.

IDEAS IN ACTION—Achieving Food Security for All Floridians Requires a Year-Round Commitment

/ Categories: Research, Guest Columns, Blog

When the pandemic began the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended free meals to school-age children all year long, including the summer months. The program will no longer be available at the end of this school year and many food insecure families are now facing a summer without school food assistance programs. The situation is made even more dire as inflation and the cost-of-living soars, leaving millions of individuals and families in critical need of year-round nutritional assistance. 

Breakfast Briefing on Property Insurance- A Special Session Primer

/ Categories: Research, Insurance, Blog

Florida is facing a property insurance crisis and the governor has called the legislature back to Tallahassee, May 23-27, to tackle the issue.  While the proposed bills to be discussed have not been filed yet, the Governor’s proclamation announcing the special session suggests areas that should be addressed, including reinsurance, building codes, litigation reform, and Citizens Property Insurance. Why is this such a pressing issue? 

2022 How Florida Counties Compare

/ Categories: Research, Local Government

To complement our How Florida Compares series, which compares our state to the rest of the nation, this report looks at the myriad local governments within the state. While property taxes get most of the public attention, they only provide about one-fifth of city and county revenue. The tables, charts, and graphs in this report provide comprehensive information on local tax rates, tax collections, other revenue sources, and government expenditures.

2022 Budget Turkey Watch

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The $112.1 billion budget passed by the Florida Legislature for FY2022-23 contains 166 appropriations items worth $281.0 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys. These are only a portion of the record-setting more than 1,200 member projects in the new budget worth $2.8 billion. In addition, the Legislature created a new program to allow members to request at least $80 million in additional local projects from the federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

Benefits Cliffs—At the Cliffs Edge

How reducing benefits cliffs can stimulate workforce participation and economic growth

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development

This report analyzes public safety net programs and benefits cliffs, a scenario in which a small increase in wages results in the partial or total loss of public benefits. Benefits cliffs occur when a marginal wage increase results in the partial or total loss of public benefits for different public assistance programs. For illustrative purposes, imagine a mother earns a $1,000 annual raise but loses more than $8,000 in childcare assistance—a cliff effect occurs. 

The Economic and Fiscal Significance of the U.S. Census and American Community Survey

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Local Government

The once-in-a-lifetime pandemic disrupted the 2020 Census— the 24th in U.S. history—delaying field operations and hampering the public’s ability to respond. This report underscores the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on 2020 Census data collection efforts, including disruptions to the ACS, and highlights how this impacts federal funding and critical decision-making among policymakers and business leaders alike.

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