Budget Watch - Governor's Proposed Budget - FY2014-15

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.

2013 Florida Juvenile Justice Inventory

/ Categories: Research, Corrections/Judicial
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.

The Effect of Changes in the National Flood Insurance Program on Florida

/ Categories: Research, Insurance
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.

Modern Management & Sensible Savings

This Report, from the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency, highlights more than $1 billion in savings for Florida taxpayers, without reducing state-provided services. The six comprehensive recommendations included in the Report address replacement of the state's accounting system; information technology governance, procurement and state asset management; pension reform; criminal justice reform; state health insurance reforms; and revenue maximization.

Florida's Revenue Opportunities Under Sec 179D

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Energy/Environment, Transportation, Cost Savings
Florida is neglecting millions of dollars in federal tax incentives, according to this Briefing. Federal legislation allows for tax deductions to offset the cost of energy efficient new buildings or building renovations, which result in added value to the state. TaxWatch recommends the state identify public buildings that could receive the tax deduction.

Selecting the Assessments for Florida's New Education Standards

/ Categories: Research, Education
Florida's new education assessment should measure students content mastery and compare their achievement to students outside of the state, according to this Briefing. An effective assessment requires student comparison, field testing and alignment with the new standards, which call for students to master content at a deeper level and apply their comprehension skills.

The Importance of Teacher Preparation to Student Achievement

/ Categories: Research, Education
Within Florida's new educational standards, students will be expected to understand and apply rigorous English language arts and mathematics content at a much deeper level, to reflect on what they are learning, to defend or depart from conclusions, and to collaborate with other students in their learning process. For students to be successful, teachers must be afforded time with their colleagues to develop the same skills for their instructional practices.

Economic Commentary - Florida: The Fishing Capital of the World

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Tourism
According to this months Economic Commentary, in 2013, more than 1.2 million non-residents fished during a visit to Florida. In addition to attracting anglers from around the world to fish, Florida hosts boating and fishing expos throughout the year, drawing visitors and their tax dollars to the state economy. Florida's unique location and variety of fishing opportunities position the state as the world leader in sport fishing tourism.

Economic Commentary: Florida Businesses and Local Governments Invest In CNG

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Energy/Environment, Transportation
According to this Economic Commentary, Florida consumes more than 728 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually, 85 percent of which is used by electric utilities. Further, 59 of Florida's 67 counties have natural gas services available for industrial, commercial and residential use. While Floridians have taken advantage of the benefits of natural gas for electricity purposes, this alternative fuel may provide ample opportunities for both commercial and personal transportation developments.

Economic Commentary: Florida Companies Train the World

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development
The latest Economic Commentary from Florida TaxWatch highlights Florida's successful Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) sector. Simulation and training exercises replicate life-like situations in a controlled environment, which allows for substantial cost-savings especially important during government sequestration and private sector cutbacks.

Implementing the CCSS: The Importance of Getting it Right

/ Categories: Research, Education
The first in a developing series about Florida's implementation of the Common Core State Standards, this Briefing gives background on the CCSS, and makes the case that in order for Florida to be an educational leader and provide the workforce talent to strengthen and transform our economy, Floridians from every sector must commit to support our students and teachers in unprecedented changes in teaching and learning.

Preeminence Designation for Florida's Universities

/ Categories: Research, Education
The 2013 Florida Legislature, with support from the Governor, passed landmark legislation that established the criteria by which the state can declare preeminent institutions of higher education within Florida's State University System. Achieving the benchmarks required for preeminence will ensure that Florida public universities rank among the highest in the nation.

Economic Commentary: Foreign Direct Investment in Florida

/ Categories: Research
Florida has ample opportunities for economic expansion by increasing Foreign Direct Investment according to this month's Economic Commentary from the Florida TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a physical investment that a foreign company makes when they buy or open businesses in Florida.

2013 Turkey Watch Report with Governors Vetoes

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Taxes, Budget/Approps
UPDATED: With Vetoes The 2013 Florida TaxWatch Turkey Watch Report identifies $106.8 million in Budget Turkeys. This annual Report identifies appropriations that appear in the budget at the last minute, bypassing the legislatively-established competitive process and receiving little or no public review. This years Report highlights 107 projects that deserve extra consideration for veto by the Governor.
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