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 taxpayers deserve transparent budget process

Op-Ed by Dominic Calabro

/ Categories: Budget Turkeys, Op-Eds

The state budget is the only law that the Florida Legislature is constitutionally required to pass every year. The process begins with the agencies’ budget requests, and then the governor submits his budget recommendations to the Legislature. The Senate and House of Representatives then pass their preferred version of the budget, and the two chambers negotiate a compromise during budget conference. Finally, this becomes the General Appropriations Act.

Unlocking Floridians’ economic potential through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

Opinion Editorial by Dominic Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch

/ Categories: Op-Eds, Blog

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of access to reliable and affordable broadband Internet service in our daily lives, which makes available an almost limitless amount of information; provides a platform for education, health care, and commerce; and facilitates family connections, social communication, and idea sharing. What’s more, public and private agencies alike offer critical services and regular updates for citizens through online programs.

Op-Ed: Reversing Florida's Back-Breaking Tort Tax

/ Categories: Op-Eds

If you are looking for a wild ride in the legal system, Florida is the place to be.

Florida has taken significant steps to mitigate the effects of the state’s tort environment, specifically as it relates to the challenging property insurance marketplace. The legislature convened in May and December 2022 to pass crucial legislation (Senate Bill 2D and Senate Bill 2A) intended to help the marketplace heal from frivolous lawsuits, insurance company insolvencies, and issues resulting from natural catastrophes. (For perspective, Florida makes up 79 percent of homeowners insurance lawsuits nationwide, but only accounts for 9 percent of all homeowners insurance claims). Yet there is still a great deal of room for improvement.

Durante la incertidumbre del COVID-19, el Censo 2020 importa aún más

/ Categories: Op-Eds

A medida que el impacto del coronavirus, o COVID-19, continúa extendiéndose a través de nuestro estado y nuestra nación, también lo hace la incertidumbre que trae a cada comunidad que toca. Empresas están cerrando, todo está cancelado, el desempleo está aumentando a un ritmo récord y el Congreso está aprobando el proyecto de ley de ayuda por desastre más grande en la historia de nuestro país, destinando billones de dólares para ayudar a combatir los impactos económicos de esta pandemia.

Sin duda, estamos viviendo tiempos inciertos sin precedentes, pero durante las crisis es que vemos lo mejor de nuestros compañeros residentes de Florida. En estos últimos días y semanas, muchos han buscado formas de ayudar, y tenemos una simple sugerencia: lea su periódico y complete el Censo 2020.

Complete your 2020 census questionnaire. It takes 10 minutes. It's your civic duty

/ Categories: Op-Eds

As the impact of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread across our state and nation, so too does the uncertainty it brings to every community it touches. Businesses are shuttering. Everything is canceled. Unemployment is climbing at a record pace. And Congress on Friday passed the largest disaster relief bill in our nation’s history, directing trillions of dollars to help beat back the economic impacts of this pandemic. President Trump signed the bill into law late Friday afternoon.
We are undoubtedly living in unprecedented and uncertain times, but it is during crises that we see the very best in our fellow Floridians. Over these past days and weeks, many have looked for ways to help and we have a simple suggestion — read your newspaper and complete the 2020 Census.

Point of View: 40 years of being the Florida taxpayers’ eyes and ears

Opinion Editorial by Sen. George LeMieux | Palm Beach Post

/ Categories: Op-Eds

In today’s world of immediate access to information and ten-minute news cycles driven by social media, it is easy to forget that when it comes to government policies, we are all playing the long game. Florida’s low-tax, business-friendly climate and taxpayer-friendly policies have allowed our state to become one of the most desirable places in the world to call home. But it was not always this way. On the way to becoming the Sunshine State we all know and love, there were more and higher taxes, a more volatile constitutional amendment process and less-informed elected leaders.

Reforming remote sales-tax law would grow business, help taxpayers | Commentary

Opinion Editorial by Sen. Pat Neal and Dominic M. Calabro | Orlando Sentinel

/ Categories: Op-Eds

As we approach the holiday season, countless Floridians will shop online for the perfect gift. During Cyber Monday and through the weeks ahead, many of these shoppers will unknowingly come short on the taxes owed for these remote purchases. This is why the 2020 Florida Legislature should finally address the most significant tax compliance and collection issue facing Florida — the collection of sales taxes on remote sales. This can be done by taking the burden of remitting the tax off the consumer and putting it where it belongs — on the seller.

Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida are essential to Florida's tourism economy

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Year after year, families across the nation and the world choose Florida as their top vacation destination. As the Sunshine State, it is not hard to see why. When you consider tourist attractions like Miami Beach, Walt Disney World, Clearwater, the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Florida Keys, Universal Studios and Sea World, not to mention an expanding economy with a steady supply of jobs, Florida seems to have it all.

The Future of Florida’s Film Industry is in the Hands of the Legislature

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Imagine that you are a producer, scouting locations for your new tv show. You need a sunny climate with easy access to beaches. Your network has green-lit a full first season, and you need somewhere to set up shop. You don’t have an unlimited budget, though, so you have to make the call based on what location gives you the best balance of cost and atmosphere. Are you coming to Florida?

It Is Time To Make Florida A Technological Leader

By New Capitol IT, LLC Founder & President Chuck Cliburn and Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Technology has changed every aspect of our lives in many direct and tangible ways. All of us now routinely access information ranging from how to change a tire to how far Mercury is from Saturn in just a matter of seconds. Technology has changed how we communicate with each other, how we watch TV and listen to music, how we buy things and pay our bills, how we learn about things and how we find our way from point A to point B.

Opportunity Zones Could Help the Panhandle Recover from Hurricane Michael

By Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro

/ Categories: Op-Eds

On October 10, Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach with devastating impact. The impact was not limited to the coast, as inland counties also felt the high-end Category 4 storm’s wrath. Before leaving Florida for Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, the hurricane killed at least 35 Floridians, knocked out power to 380,000 homes and businesses, and caused insured damages of $2.6 billion (and climbing). Florida’s agriculture industry, including cotton, peanut, and corn farms, suffered more than $150 million in damages and timber losses are estimated at $1.3 billion.

Yes on Amendment 2 to prevent nearly $1 billion property tax hike

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida Taxwatch Chairman, Pat Neal, and President & CEO, Dominic Calabro, explain why on behalf of literally every resident of the Sunshine State, Floridians must vote “yes” on Amendment 2. Renters, business owners and consumers will be in for a major property tax increase if it fails to pass.

It’s time to rethink class size requirements

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Remember the last special legislative session when the world was abuzz with the news that $100 million more was being added to the schools budget? Now, imagine at least 20 times that amount being added every year. It could happen.

Drop the lawsuits and let Brightline roll

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida needs projects like Brightline, projects that meet public needs using private dollars. Brightline is part of a larger statewide strategy to reduce congestion on Florida’s highways and increase the mobility of business travelers, Florida residents and tourists.

The Time is Now to Address the Everglades Crisis

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida’s Everglades is an American iconic national park known and revered throughout the world for its bio diversity. Floridians, regardless where they live, must join together to protect and restore this treasure before the Everglades reaches a point of no return. The Everglades is home to thousands of plant and animal species and draws millions of visitors to Florida. Unfortunately, decades of massive changes to the habitat’s water flow have resulted in unintended consequences that threaten Florida’s environment, residents, and economy. The situation requires immediate action.

We Must Continue Fight to Protect Public's Right to Maintain a Vigilant Eye on their Elected Officials

/ Categories: Op-Eds

As a nonpartisan government watchdog and taxpayer-research institute that focuses on promoting government accountability and transparency, Florida TaxWatch supports the use of public notices in local newspapers of record by government entities to notify all of their citizens of meetings and votes. Unfortunately, current proposed legislation would allow municipality websites to be the only required source for public notice posting.

Teacher Shortages Harm the Future of Our State

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida’s education system is facing a crisis that will affect our children and our future. Teachers have been leaving schools at alarming rates with no one to replace them. Low pay and the stress associated with teaching have driven many college students away from the profession, leaving a shallow talent pool of highly qualified teachers. Additionally, Florida TaxWatch research has found that Constitutionally-mandated class size limits in Florida have led to higher demand for teachers, resulting in under-qualified individuals being hired or schools not being able to fill the position as the pool of teachers shrinks.

Economic Development Incentives Drive Jobs to Florida, Boost State Economy

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Shaping up to be one of the biggest battles in the Legislature in many years, the fight on economic development incentives and tourism funding has been swirling throughout the halls of the Capitol the last few weeks. On one side are those who believe that taxpayer dollars should not be used to entice businesses and tourists to Florida; the other side sees these programs as crucial for creating jobs and boosting our economy.

Keeping Cigars in the Cigar City

/ Categories: Op-Eds
Politicians talk repeatedly about doing things to help create jobs. But, sometimes, doing nothing is the best option. We hope that newly-elected lawmakers understand that less government intrusion is often the key to keeping the American Dream alive.

Tax Credit Scholarships Save Florida Money

/ Categories: Op-Eds

It is understandable that new forms of public education — whether they are magnet schools, charters, virtual schooling or dual enrollment — can cause anxiety. The conversation around the teachers union lawsuit to shut down the tax credit scholarship program for low-income children has produced a lot of heat but has shed very little light on the issue. And the issue underlying the lawsuit is allowing parents of disadvantaged students to choose the best educational option that permits their children to reach new levels of academic achievement.