BRIDG: Growing Florida's Advanced Manufacturing Sector

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development

BRIDG was established as a not-for-profit, public-private partnership with support from state and local governments and leading manufacturing industry companies. For the 2019-20 fiscal year, state funding for BRIDG was withheld. BRIDG has the potential to generate thousands of high-skill, high-wage jobs, with billions of dollars in total earnings and hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues. BRIDG has the potential to establish Central Florida as a major hub, if not THE major hub, for information technology research, innovation, and manufacturing in the world. Florida TaxWatch presents this report in hope that the Governor and Legislature will continue its investment in BRIDG for fiscal year 2020-21 and beyond. 

An Independent Analysis of the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) and its Impacts on Florida’s Medicaid Program

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

Florida TaxWatch has undertaken an independent review to assess the impacts of certain key changes proposed by MFAR that would have a far-reaching and dramatic impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, Florida’s safety-net providers, the 3.8 million Medicaid-eligible Floridians, and Florida taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present this summary report and its recommendations, and we look forward to a continued discussion with Florida lawmakers and policymakers.

2020 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps

The bills passed by the 2020 Legislature included many recommended or supported by Florida TaxWatch research. The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.

What’s In and What’s Out of the Final 2020 Tax Package

/ Categories: Research, E-Fairness, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

The 2020 tax package (HB 7097) was amended many times as it moved through the process. At first, it grew topping $230 million in tax savings at one point. Then, citing a need to keep more money in reserves for COVID-19 response, it started getting smaller. The following is a description of all the provisions that were in the many versions of HB 7097. This report starts with what’s in the final and follows with what dropped out along the way.

 

Session Spotlight - Provisions in the House Tax Package & Corresponding Senate Legislation

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

It appears the 2020 Legislature will cut taxes again. As has been a recent practice, the House Ways & Means Committee developed a package of tax cuts and other tax-related provisions, while the Senate has moved individual tax bills through committee. We likely will not see the Senate’s full tax proposal until the House bill (HB 7097) reaches the Senate floor and it offers an amendment. 

HB7087 — Proposed Merger of SUS Institutions

/ Categories: Research, Education

HB 7087, upon becoming law, would require the Boards of Trustees of Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly), New College of Florida (New College), and the University of Florida (UF) to submit to applications for merger to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSSCOC). Upon approval of the mergers, New College and Florida Poly would become part of UF and specified items and assets of New College and Florida Poly would be transferred to UF.

Budget Watch - House and Senate Budgets for FY2020-21

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

With a little over two weeks remaining in the 2020 Legislative Session, there is still much to be decided about how more than $90 billion in taxpayer money will be spent next year. The General Appropriations Act is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass. Budget conference negotiations will formally begin soon, likely next week. Since lawmakers are constitutionally required to wait 72 hours before a final vote, a mutually agreed-upon budget must be produced by Tuesday, March 10 in order for an on-time finish of the session on Friday, March 13. As we prepare to head into conference, this analysis looks at what is in the two budgets and what the major differences are.

An Independent Assessment of the Impact of Broward College

/ Categories: Research, Education, Local Government

On January 30th, 2019, Governor DeSantis signed an Executive Order establishing the goal to make Florida number 1 in the U.S. for workforce education by 2030 and to ensure that Florida students are ready for high-demand, high-wage jobs. Building a workforce in health services, transportation, education, computing, trade, utilities, and jobs that require an industry certification or license will require a sizable investment of public and private funds. In this report, TaxWatch takes a fresh look at Broward College, how it compares to other institutions of higher learning in the Tri-County South Florida region, and its return on investment. 

Diverting Tourist Development Tax Revenue

Florida Shouldn’t “Eat Our Seed Corn” by Diverting Tourist Development Tax Revenue

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Local Government

Tourist Development Taxes (TDTs) play a vital role in Florida counties’ promotion of tourism in their areas. Over the years, the Legislature has added more and more authorized uses of this revenue, diluting the funding available for tourism promotion and advertising. During the 2020 session, efforts to further expanded the authorized uses are continuing. The “slippery slope” warning raised by the tourism industry and Florida TaxWatch in the past has become a reality. 

An Accurate Count in the 2020 Census is Vital for Florida

Billions of Dollars are at Stake

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide

Florida is now the third larg- est state in the nation with 21.5 million people and one of the fastest growing—adding 640 people a day. Florida has a his- tory of being undercounted in the census and an undercount in this census will negatively impact the state for another ten years.

We Can’t Wait on Water

The Restoration and Protection of Florida’s Water Resources is an Essential Taxpayer Investment

/ Categories: Research

Water is perhaps Florida’s most valuable resource. In addition to sustaining life, it provides many environmental, economic, and recreational benefits to the public. With more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers, more than 1,000 springs, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, it is also central to Florida’s identity and a key reason why so many people visit the Sunshine State. This report examines the investment in water resource restoration, protection, and the potential benefits it provides.

2019 Annual Report

/ Categories: Research, Annual Reports

The Florida TaxWatch Annual Report for 2019 is the 40th-anniversary edition and details the work of the organization over the past 40 years, including the history of the organization and its founding, and how that work ties into today's efforts. 

2019 How Florida Counties Compare

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide

Local taxing and spending is a major part of Florida government operations. More than half of all Florida government revenue (53.1 percent) is raised at the local level, one of the highest shares in the nation. Florida’s 66 county governments (plus Jacksonville’s consolidated government), more than 400 municipal governments, and approximately 1,000 independent special districts spend nearly $80 billion annually. This report compares the magnitude and makeup of Florida’s local governments’ fiscal operations. It does not attempt to compare or evaluate levels of service. 

Budget Watch - The Governor’s FY2020-21 Budget and Tax Recommendations

/ Categories: Research

Governor Ron DeSantis has released his $91.4 billion recommended spending plan for FY2020-21, providing a starting point for budget negotiations for when the next legislative session convenes on January 14, 2020. This could be considered his first recommended budget, since he released the last one less than a month after he took office, and agencies had submitted their budget requests three months before.

From Grease & Grime to Technology & Talent

A Summary of the 2019 Florida Make More Manufacturing Summit

/ Categories: Research

The slogan “Made in America” has always meant jobs for Americans. Manufacturing is the transformation of raw materials into new products and it ranges from small, home-based businesses that make products by hand to the largest, most technologically sophisticated factories and plants. The Manufacturing sector is made up of 21 subsectors which provide more than 12.5 million high-paying jobs. Manufacturing jobs pay an average of 12 percent more than other jobs. In 2017, persons employed in U.S. Manufacturing jobs earned an average of $84,832 (includes benefits) annually.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Report 2019

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

As of 2010, there were 2.5 million Floridians in their 50s, 2.1 million Floridians in their 60s, 1.4 million Floridians in their 70s and almost 1 million Floridians in their 80s and above. There is every reason to believe that these numbers will continue to rise. Recent estimates predict that Florida’s 65 and older population will represent 24.1 percent of Florida’s overall population by the year 2030. As Florida’s population continues to age, the elderly population will require vastly different and more costly forms of health care, such as long-term care for chronic conditions, more frequent examinations and follow-ups, and services and care for cognitive and mental impairments.

Budget Watch - Small Surplus Estimated for the Next State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

It appears the 2020 Florida Legislature will have a little money left over after funding a continuation budget for the next fiscal year, but lawmakers need to be careful about spending it. State economists estimate that there will be a General Revenue (GR) budget surplus of $289.3 after funding the base budget plus “critical needs” and “high priority needs”—a conservative continuation budget.

Education Leadership Roundtable Summary Report 2019

/ Categories: Research, Education

Moderated by our Vice President for Research Bob Nave, the panel discussed obstacles to effective school leadership; ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers; professional development for principals; how to get the most from teachers; and principal autonomy.

Budget Watch–General Revenue Estimates Reduced Slightly

 Loss of Indian Gaming Revenue Puts a Dent in General Revenue; State to Refund $542 Million in Excess Corporate Income Taxes

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on August 14 to develop a new revenue forecast for Florida. It was a challenging and complex conference for the state’s economists.  The uncertainty surrounding corporate income tax collections, the loss of Indian gaming revenue, a weaker economic forecast, and the impact of Hurricane Michael were some of the factors they were dealing with.

2019 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The 2019 Budget Turkey Watch Report: An Analysis of the Transparency and Accountability of the Budget Process is the result of an annual independent review of Florida’s new budget by Florida TaxWatch. The report started in 1983, and having been published annually since 1986, promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting. 

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