Session Spotlight: Proposed Changes to High School Graduation Requirements

/ Categories: Research, Education
This Session Spotlight looks at the three pathways being debated in the proposed legislation, and how each track can help students achieve their goals through targeted coursework. The Spotlight also points out that both bills could be strengthened through increased attention to more rigorous English Language Arts assessments and professional training for teachers.

Now is the Time for a Centralized IT Governance Agency

/ Categories: Research
A centralized agency with sufficient authority to set and implement enterprise-wide information technology is long overdue. Florida TaxWatch commends the Senate and the House for understanding the importance of technology governance and encourages the Legislature to establish a centralized State agency responsible for IT and business processes, with the necessary authority, as recommended by the Florida TaxWatch Government Cost Savings Task Force.

Putting the Trust Back in Trust Funds

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps
According to this Briefing, When the Legislature wants to sweep a trust fund, it should be required to introduce a separate general bill for each trust fund sweep. This would allow input from legislators and testimony from concerned parties, and require an up or down vote on each sweep.

Reforming Florida's Claim Bill Process

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Local Government
Florida's claim bill process is in need of reform. This process—by which persons can petition the legislature for payment of tort claims against government—has received increased attention in recent years due to high profile cases and large awards. This Report makes recommendations on reforming the system.

Economic Commentary: The Disproportionate Effect of Sequestration on Florida

If the "Sequester" kicks in on March 1, the immediate cuts to the budget authority are $85 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office has indicated that spending will be reduced by $44 billion by the end of September 2013. It is incredibly important that everyone understands how detrimental these cuts will be to U.S.'s fourth largest economy and to its recovery from the Great Recession. This Economic Commentary details some of the effects of these automatic federal spending cuts on Florida.

Legislature Should Reduce Florida's Communications Services Tax

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Economic Development, Local Government
This Briefing looks at the history of the CST in Florida, compares Florida's rates to other states, finding that Florida is the fourth-highest state in the U.S. for this tax, and recommends that the Legislature look to reduce CST rates to "benefit a wide range of Floridians, affecting virtually all individuals and businesses."

Modernizing the FRS: Switching to a Defined Contribution Plan

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Retirement
Due primarily to its substantial and unpredictable long-term costs, the Florida TaxWatch Government Cost Saving Task Force has made recommendations to reform the current Florida Retirement System (FRS) for the past several years. Given the complexity of this issue, this Report is a further expansion, clarification, and reinforcement of these recommendations.

Aligning Postsecondary Education with Modern Employment Needs in Florida

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Education
To address the steps that Florida has taken and should continue to take to match our graduates to the industries that need a workforce with skill-specific education, this Briefing looks at two aspects of the issue: how the right degree can make a difference in lifetime earning potential, and how Florida's Supply and Demand Portal can help students and employers achieve their goals.

Economic Commentary - Florida's 2012 Job Growth

/ Categories: Research, Taxes
This month's Economic Commentary focuses on job growth in Florida during 2012. The analysis shows that Florida has continued its recovery from its most recent recession, showing strong job creation in a significant number of sectors.

Investing in Tourism: the Economic Impact of Expanding Florida Tourism

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Economic Development, Tourism, Local Government
The economic modeling done in this Report, looking at the impact of investing more in Florida's tourism industry, indicates that the Florida tourism industry reaching the milestone of 100 million annual visitors would create 121,298 jobs, and increase overall personal income for Floridians by $5.3 billion.

Government Cost Savings Task Force Report for FY2013-14

Continuing a legacy that has resulted in the savings of at least $3.5 billion in Floridians' hard-earned tax dollars over the last four years alone, Florida TaxWatch added more than $1 billion in cost-saving options for lawmakers this year, with the release of this Report. This year's Report is the fifth in as many years from Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog headquartered in Tallahassee.

Economic Commentary- Florida's Space Coast: Recovery and the Future

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development
This month's Economic Commentary focuses on the aerospace industry in Florida following the closure of the Space Shuttle program at NASA. According to Enterprise Florida, the state ranks 2nd nationally for aviation, aerospace, and space establishments, employing some 83,200 Floridians, and providing a significant amount of the high tech manufacturing jobs in the state. With private and tourist-centered space travel on the very near horizon, the Commentary looks at what Florida is doing to keep this vital sector active in the Sunshine State.

Economic Commentary - Florida Invests in Competitiveness

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development
This month's Economic Commentary discusses how Florida is investing in seaport and related infrastructure more than at any other time in our history, to diversify Florida's economy and make our state more competitive. This new infrastructure will allow Florida companies to be more efficient handling freight, and will allow additional opportunities for companies to transport their goods to markets in and out of Florida.

Economic Commentary-The Effect of the Midwest Drought on Florida

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Energy/Environment, Transportation
With counties in 32 states placed on the USDA's list of primary disaster areas because of drought conditions, this month's Economic Commentary looks at the effects of the drought on food, and potentially fuel, prices. Corn is currently at the highest per-ton cost in history, which will lead to increases in commodities like milk, meat, and eggs for us all.