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.
The competing House and Senate tax cut proposals have many differences that need to be worked out, but there are beneficial provisions in both plans, according to this report, which compares the three proposals suggested by the Florida House, Senate and Governor Rick Scott to provide $500 million in tax cuts during the 2014 Legislative Session.
Florida's universities and research institutes are creating of some of the states most advanced technologies, but one Florida Institute is helping to bring them to the masses. The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, highlighted in this Economic Commentary, invests in developing companies using the latest products and processes invented at Florida's publicly-funded universities and research institutes.
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.
In the second yearly installment of the TaxWatch look at the issue of Trust Fund sweeps, this report looks at two consecutive years of sweeps from various funds, and recommends a separate bill for each desired sweep by the Legislature.
Florida's Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders are significantly undercompensated, as shown in findings from this research report. The new report analyzes Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender pay across each of Florida's judicial circuits and finds that their low pay contributes to high turnover rates, causing delays in judicial processing and increased taxpayer investment in new employee training, costing taxpayers more than $15 million annually.
Florida TaxWatch released a statement from Robert E. Weissert, Esq., Chief Research Officer and General Counsel, standing firmly behind a recent briefing outlining the debate between Florida's health care practitioners. The statement addresses concerns, already refuted in the report, raised by a special interest group opposed to removing practice restrictions on the 15,000 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in Florida.
Already enjoying what is called a more than $1 billion budget surplus to appropriate during the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers were given another $150 million by the latest General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference. This Budget Watch report for this coming fiscal year examines the latest round of estimating conferences by state economists and recommends that the Legislature still consider this a tight budget year and continue to implement cost-saving reforms such as those identified by the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency.
A new honeybee research facility could make Florida a global leader in agricultural research and is estimated to return more than $1 million in state tax revenue to Florida. The proposed facility, to be established at the University of Florida, would attract research revenue as well as help recruit and retain top researchers and students.
Many local governments in Florida have taken advantage of the practice of selling advertising on local transit vehicles and bus shelters, similar to the recommendations made by Florida TaxWatch in multiple cost-savings reports. TaxWatch evaluates allowing advertising on the boxes that house traffic signal controllers in this Report.
Allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to practice to the fullest extent of their training and experience would increase access to quality health care for Floridians while saving the state up to $339 million, according to this Briefing. To facilitate such practice, Florida's practice and regulation laws must be revisited to remove barriers to nurse practitioner-provided care.
Statewide expansion of telemedicine could save Florida more than $1 billion annually, according to this TaxWatch report. The report highlights the importance of removing barriers and including incentives for encouraging the use of telemedicine through the creation of a solid policy foundation.
Florida's nine university research parks help create high-wage jobs, diversify the state economy and ensure Florida retains top graduates, according to this month's Economic Commentary. The report highlights the importance of Florida's research parks to the creation and sustainability of STEM jobs in the state.
The fiscal condition of Florida's state government is in good shape as evidenced by a new study that ranks the state sixth overall in the nation, though there are some limitations with the reports findings, according to this analysis by Florida TaxWatch.
Florida must have an integrated Information Technology (IT) Governance model to improve IT services and reduce costs, according to this Report. The Report analyzes Florida's needs and options and finds that a federated governance structure will reduce duplicative IT investments and allow the state to allocate resources more efficiently.
Florida's growing economy created an estimated 192,900 private sector jobs in 2013, according to this annual jobs report. The 2013 growth rates show Florida leading the nations high-population states with the largest per-capita increase in jobs. The state also saw the second-largest yearly percentage increase in non-farm employment in the nation with a 2.6 percent growth rate.
This Briefing recommends that the state decriminalize the possession of minor amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone, and lower mandatory minimums to save significant tax dollars, reduce prison populations, and help shift the focus to treatment for substance abuse problems.
This report shows that all economic development strategies are not created equal, and details the spillover effects of several popular economic development projects. Although each local community must address its individual economic needs, the report shows that targeting certain areas of economic growth produce higher return on investment.
This Briefing recommends that the state put in place the guidelines for an Adult Civil Citation program, patterned on the existing Juvenile Civil Citation program, which offers an alternative process to misdemeanor arrest for first-time nonviolent youth offenders.
Based on the fact that license revocation is very common in Florida, this report recommends that the state remove the felony sanctions for driving while license suspended, which would align Florida with penalties in similar states, reduce prison populations, and save taxpayer money.
Highlights from Governor Rick Scott's proposed budget plan for FY 2014-15 are featured in this Budget Watch Report. The $74.20 billion spending plan is slightly lower than current year spending, even as lawmakers are expected to have their first budget surplus in many years.
According to this Report, expanding reentry programs in Florida could prevent inmates from returning to state correctional facilities and reduce costs for taxpayers.
This Economic Commentary highlights the opportunities angel investment provides to Florida startups and small businesses. Angel investor networks help entrepreneurs connect with the resources and capital they require to become successful companies that can have a significant impact on local and state economies.
In order to meet the growing demand for juvenile justice programs throughout Florida, many new programs have been developed. But in order for Florida to take full advantage of available resources, it is essential to know what those resources are. This Inventory is the first step in the process of creating a comprehensive list.
This Economic Commentary recommends that the required analysis be completed to determine the impact of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. Removal of the subsidies could affect home values and purchasing patterns, potentially resulting in reduced tax receipts from local property tax collections. To determine if the impact will be substantial, the report recommends the Federal Emergency Management Agency conduct the required affordability study prior to implementation of the Act.