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.
The 2013 Florida TaxWatch Annual Report: Positioning Florida for 2014: Building on a Solid Foundation
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 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.
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.
This Ideas in Action piece features opinion-editorials published by the Tallahassee Democrat in October 2013. They are republished here with permission from the authors.
This Ideas in Action is written by Roger Kaufman, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Florida State University, and Distinguished Research Professor at the Sonora Institute of Technology (Mexico). The piece discusses how a useful strategic plan can help a University.
The federal government shutdown is negatively affecting tax revenues and capital investment in Florida, according to this report, which outlines the potential impacts an extended shutdown would have on Florida's economy.
This Economic Commentary looks at the Florida Trade and Logistics Study, the first transportation study in Florida that took into account such a wide variety of stakeholders and system components. The second iteration of the study is expected in the next few months.
Florida Boys and Girls Clubs (FBGC) participants demonstrate significant differences in educational and juvenile justice outcomes versus similar peers who do not take advantage of the FBGC programs, according to this Special Report.
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.
The Legislative Budget Commission has adopted the Long-Range Financial Outlook, which contains an expected budget surplus of $846 million for FY 2014-15. This marks the second year in a row that the Florida Legislature will likely have a surplus after funding the continuation budget.
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.
This infographic shows some of the major economic statistics for Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Gadsden counties. (Note: Designed to be printed on 11x17" paper.)
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.
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.
This report illustrates the positive impact of business development and trade missions on Florida's economy, highlighting the opportunities the missions create for Florida businesses, and providing details on the countries that recent delegations have visited.
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.
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.
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.
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.