The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

Florida Medicaid Redetermination

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

There are numerous federal programs administered by states that provide assistance to low-income and needy families. During periods of economic downturn, like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, more Florida families turn to these government programs for assistance. One such safety net program is Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program that provides medical coverage to more than five million low-income, elderly, disabled Floridians and children. Signed into federal law in 1965, Medicaid was created to improve the health of those individuals who might otherwise go without medical care for themselves and their children.

Revisiting Housing Affordability in Florida - SB 102 Offers Good Solutions

/ Categories: Research, Blog

As Florida continues to grow, we must ensure that our state remains affordable for people to live, work, and play. Florida’s current population boom saw the state increase its population by nearly 15 percent between 2010 and 2020. The state added a little less than three million residents in under a decade. Florida is currently the fastest growing state in the nation, and we should increase our housing stock to meet these population pressures. 

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools: SMART Program Quarterly Report

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC

The Broward County Public Schools’ Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended March 31, 2023 (“District Quarterly Report”) provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of General Obligation Bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades; purchase music, arts, and theater equipment; improve school safety and security; upgrade athletic facilities; and renovate educational facilities.

2023 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys, Taxpayer Guide

This is the Florida TaxWatch annual independent review of Florida’s FY2023-24 budget process. The report was started in 1983 and promotes 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 thorough, thoughtful, transparent, and accountable.  Every appropriation should receive proper deliberation and public scrutiny.  This includes member-requested projects.  

Physician Shortages: Better Utilization of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Palliative Medicine Could Provide Relief - Revised

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

A fast-growing and aging U.S. population is posing concerns for physicians’ ability to meet patient demand in the future. Current and future population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a projected growth of 34.8 million people from 2019 to 2034. An estimated 66% of this growth is attributed to people aged 65 or older. As such, physician shortages are especially concerning in the hospice and palliative care sector. As the population ages, the need for a higher volume of care and more specialized expertise will grow.

2023 How Florida Counties Compare

/ Categories: Research

Florida relies heavily on local governments to provide services to its residents. The state’s counties, cities, school districts, and special districts raise and spend more money combined than Florida’s state government. The levels of taxing and spending in different jurisdictions across the state vary considerably. This report will help you see how your county stacks up against the other 66 counties.

To complement our How Florida Compares series, which compares our state to the rest of the nation, this report looks at the myriad local governments within the state. While property taxes get most of the public attention, they only provide about one-fifth of city and county revenue. The tables, charts, and graphs in this report provide comprehensive information on local tax rates, tax collections, other revenue sources, and government expenditures.

Florida TaxWatch provides this report as a reference tool for Florida’s taxpayers, policymakers, and elected officials. 

Florida's Certificate of Need Program Delivers High Quality Hospice Care

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

The development of hospice programs in Florida is regulated by a Certificate of Need (CON) program. Certificate of Need programs allow the entry of new service providers if the local community has a demonstrated need. Florida is one of 13 states and the District of Columbia that continues to utilize a CON program for the development of hospice services. As Florida’s population increases and ages, it will become more critical to facilitate the growth of hospice services in the way that best serves hospice patients and protects the interests of Florida taxpayers.

$670 Million Added to the New State Budget Through the Sprinkle Lists Deserves Close Scrutiny During the Governor’s Veto Deliberations

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys

Florida’s new state budget for FY2023-24 carries a price tag of $117.0 billion, which is a 6.2 percent increase over current spending. The budget also contains a few billion dollars in spending that is technically appropriated for FY2022-23, so it is not included in the $117.0 billion total. 

Session Spotlight: Not Funding VISIT FLORIDA Would Hurt Tourism Promotion and Florida’s Economy

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Tourism, Blog

Tourism plays a major role in Florida’s economic strength. More than 142 million tourists are expected to visit Florida in 2023. In 2019, 131 million visitors spent nearly $100 billion, supporting 1.6 million Florida jobs that paid $57 billion in wages. The spending generated $12.7 billion in state and local taxes. Without the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Florida household would have to pay as much as $1,420 in additional taxes just to maintain the current level of government services.

The Impacts of Impact Fees on the Cost of Housing

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Housing Affordability

Two main drivers of Florida’s economy are tourism and real estate development. With an estimated 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, real estate development puts a strain on public facilities (e.g., roads, water and wastewater system, etc.) and services (e.g., police, fire protection, parks, etc.). Local governments rely on impact fees to generate the money necessary to accommodate the impacts of new development on existing public facilities and services.

Taxpayer Independence Day 2023

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

Tuesday, April 18, Florida TaxWatch joins the taxpayers in our state in celebrating Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2023. On that day, Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the tax collector. This symbolic date assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations. This measure of tax burden is based on the relative size of all taxes paid in Florida to our state’s total personal income. In 2023, on average, it takes Florida 107 out of 365 days to pay its taxes, or three and a half months. Floridians are experiencing tax collections that are growing faster than the personal income to pay for them, so it will take taxpayers four more days to achieve tax independence than it did last year, when the date was April 10. After Taxpayer Independence Day came earlier in six straight years, this is the second consecutive year the date falls later on the calendar. Independence is coming nine days later this year than in 2020, when the pandemic led to reduced tax collections.

Stronger Families: Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable Populations

/ Categories: Research

Vulnerable adults, seniors, children, and families face challenges they cannot overcome alone. It is the state’s responsibility to protect and serve these individuals. Among others, the state provides services to persons in need of behavioral and mental health services, persons with disabilities, runaway and homeless youths, juvenile delinquents, and foster care youth. Each vulnerable population has their own unique set of resources made available through various state agencies and delivered by a system of human services organizations funded by the state, whether through a direct line item or through funds provided to clients.

Budget Sprinkle Lists Diminish Confidence in the Budget Process and Should Be Discontinued

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys

Ten years ago, the Legislature began a budgeting practice that is not in the interest of sound budgeting, transparency, thoughtful deliberation, or the taxpayers of Florida. The practice in question is the introduction of Supplemental Funding lists. These have - come to be commonly known, and even referred to by legislators, as the “Sprinkle Lists” – as in the “sprinkling” of millions of additional dollars for appropriations projects around the state at the last-minute during budget conference. 

The What, Why, and How of the Florida TaxWatch Budget Turkey Watch Report

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys

The annual Florida TaxWatch Budget Turkey Watch Report was started in 1983 and promotes oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process. The report identifies appropriations that circumvent proper review, transparency, and accountability standards and is presented to the Governor for inclusion in his or her veto considerations

Water Turkeys: Despite Increased Funding for Florida’s Water Resources and the Creation of New Competitive Grants Processes, Local Member Earmarks are Proliferating

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys

Florida has been making very large investments in the protection and restoration of the state’s water resources. On his second day in office, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order making water a top priority. The Executive Order called for funding of $2.5 billion over four years—$625 million a year—to significantly expedite Everglades restoration and enhance the protection of our water systems. This goal was surpassed, with $3.3 billion appropriated by the Florida Legislature in the last four years for specific key water funding in addition to hundreds of millions more in water-related appropriations also in the state budget.

BudgetWatch: New General Revenue Estimates Add $7 Billion for the Next Budget

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

In what has been a regular occurrence, the Florida General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference significantly increased the estimate of the amount of GR that will be collected. This is the sixth conference in a row that has produced a rosier revenue forecast. The last reduced estimate came at the August 2020 conference, just as the coronavirus pandemic began its relatively short-lived slowdown of Florida’s revenue collections.

Florida’s Housing Market: Trends of Supply and Demand

/ Categories: Research, Housing Affordability

As Florida continues to grow, the development of infrastructure (e.g., roads, water and wastewater systems, parks, etc.) must keep pace. In January 2023, Florida TaxWatch released “Economic Commentary: An Update on Florida’s Housing Rental Market,” which evaluated the troubles Florida has experienced with the ever-rising cost of rent. In Florida, the cost of rent has jumped by 36 percent since 2020, with much of the increase occurring in 2021 alone.

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools: SMART Program Quarterly Report

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC

The Broward County Public Schools’ Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended December 31, 2022 (“District Quarterly Report”) provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of general obligation bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades, purchase music and arts equipment, improve school safety and security, upgrade athletic facilities, and renovate educational facilities.  

Commentary: An Inappropriate Cost of Doing Business: Paying the Interchange Fee on Sales Tax for Credit Card Purchases

/ Categories: Research, Cost Savings

Credit cards provide a convenience for consumers and merchants when shopping, both in-person or online. This convenience comes at a cost for merchants since credit card companies charge them an interchange fee (or “swipe fee”) on each credit card purchase. Throughout the last decade, credit card utilization and popularity have increased drastically for a brick-and-mortar businesses and e-commerce businesses. 

Why Taxpayers Should Care about Workforce Instability with Florida’s Public Defenders and State Attorneys

/ Categories: Research, Corrections/Judicial, Workforce Development

One of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the safety and welfare of those in its care. This includes indigents who are accused of wrongdoing and who would otherwise be unable to afford a private attorney to defend them. It is essential that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused is afforded all rights under Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution, including the right to a speedy trial and the right to have the assistance of competent defense counsel, even if they cannot afford it.

A Closer Look at Florida’s Sales Tax Exemptions

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

The six percent sales and use tax is Florida state government’s largest revenue sourceby far, currently bringing in approximately $36 billion annually. When the almost $6 billion in local option sales tax collections is included with the state tax, the $42 billion total collections make the sales tax the number one tax source for all Florida governments, topping the $40 billion local property tax.

IDEAS IN ACTION: Be Prepared: Using Florida’s Natural Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change

Guest Column By Josiah Neeley

/ Categories: Research, Guest Columns, Blog

Florida has a diverse and beautiful natural environment, ranging from the Everglades to the beaches of the Florida panhandle. The state is also vulnerable to a variety of extreme weather events, such as flooding and hurricanes, which are projected to become more severe in the coming decades due to climate change. Protecting the state against these events could be a costly undertaking. Various proposals seek to minimize the risks through new infrastructure projects such as sea walls. But in deciding how best to adapt to extreme weather risk, Florida should be sure to consider using the state’s “natural infrastructure” to protect itself in a less costly and more sustainable way.

POLICY STUDIES ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT Be Prepared: Using Florida’s Natural Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change

/ Categories: Research, Releases

Florida has a diverse and beautiful natural environment, ranging from the Everglades to the beaches of the Florida panhandle. The state is also vulnerable to a variety of extreme weather events, such as flooding and hurricanes, which are projected to become more severe in the coming decades due to climate change. Protecting the state against these events could be a costly undertaking. Various proposals seek to minimize the risks through new infrastructure projects such as sea walls. But in deciding how best to adapt to extreme weather risk, Florida should be sure to consider using the state’s “natural infrastructure” to protect itself in a less costly and more sustainable way.

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