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. 

Time to Even the Playing Field for Small Businesses

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Small businesses truly are this nation’s backbone. They account for 94 percent of all the country’s businesses and are owned by a diverse array of Americans from all backgrounds. The ability to build a small business is the cornerstone of the American dream.

Protect Taxpayers When Governments Spend Their Money on Contractors

/ Categories: Op-Eds

When taxpayers pay for a road or a school, the expectations are clear – a new street that helps traffic move or a new building that safely houses our students.

But so many services that taxpayers pay for are less tangible – helping children receive quality health care, giving prisoners the tools to stay away from crime upon release, protecting the state’s most  vulnerable children and adults with support and assistance.

College Football is a Touchdown for Florida's Local and State Economies

/ Categories: Op-Eds

It is Hurricane season in Florida. And Seminole season. And it’s also the season for the Gators and Rattlers and Bulls and many others. After a long hot summer, Floridians are eagerly awaiting the return of college football.

Not only is college football great for the fans, it is also a boon for communities and the state’s economy.

Remember to Thank Principals Too During the First Week Back to School

/ Categories: Op-Eds
For millions of parents and students this month around the Sunshine State, one of the most exciting parts of returning to school is meeting the teachers. And for good reason; teachers will spend 180 days helping students learn and grow as one of the primary influences, besides parents and family, in each child’s life.

But as you settle into the new school year routine, we hope you will take some time to share your appreciation and support for each school’s principal. More than you may realize, effective principals have a crucial role in each student’s progress and success.

Sales Tax Holidays Have Become Florida Tradition and Boon To Taxpayers, Businesses

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Few legislative decisions have been as wildly popular as Florida’s “sales tax holidays.” They have become more than just a tax break. They are a traditional back-to-school event that families plan for, neighbors talk about and businesses promote.

This year’s back-to-school sales tax holiday – from August 5 through 7 – is shorter than last year and does not exempt from taxes some items previously included such as computers.

But there are few tax breaks that generate such excitement among taxpayers while stimulating business activity with increased advertising and competition.

Florida Legislators Must Commit to Transparency and Accountability in the Budgeting Process

/ Categories: Op-Eds

July 1 marked the first day of Florida’s 2016-17 fiscal year with the new $82.3 billion budget and 159 laws going into effect. The budget, the largest in Florida history, funds all types of services for Floridians, ranging from education and health care to state parks and court renovations.

Passing a state budget is required by the Florida Constitution and involves extremely difficult decisions. Still, it is imperative that our elected officials exercise accountability and transparency in the budgeting process. The hardworking taxpayers of Florida rightfully expect that lawmakers will thoroughly vet all appropriations before adding them to the budget.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.


The $15 an Hour Debate Should Be About a $15 an Hour Workforce, Not Wage

/ Categories: Op-Eds
As the most recent Florida TaxWatch research shows, a drastic increase to a $15 an hour minimum wage could produce unfortunate results. It is far more important for Florida's policymakers to make targeted investments in education and workforce development to build a $15 an hour workforce, rather than through burdensome government mandates.

Invest in Students and Teachers, Not Lawsuits and Lawyers

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida’s push for education gains should be conducted in the classroom, not the courtroom. A Leon County judge’s sweeping decision this week to protect education options for more than 70,000 students is an historic moment. It is critical that we work together and focus on helping students and teachers by strengthening scholarship and school options for students in need.

Florida's State Workers are a Valuable Part of the State's Daily Life

/ Categories: Op-Eds

From matters of life and death to the future of our economy, state workers play critical roles in making our state the best in the nation to learn, to work and to live. Whether it’s protecting the state’s most vulnerable children from abuse, making sure our colleges and universities are preparing Florida for the future, or planning for smart and efficient use of our taxpayers’ money, state workers are silent heroes in helping our state move forward.

Floridians with Disabilities Face Hurdles In Employment

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida’s economy has rarely been stronger than it is now with our state’s unemployment at 5 percent and strong growth predicted for the state’s future. However, there is a critical segment being left behind in this economic expansion. Floridians with disabilities account for more than 20 percent of the population, yet only 30 percent of those are employed.

Floridians Deserve an Accountable And Transparent Budgeting Process

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Too few Floridians have the time to keep an eye on Tallahassee to make sure lawmakers are making prudent decisions with your money. That’s why Florida TaxWatch – the state’s premier independent government watchdog group – is on the job. It is part of our mission is to ensure that your money is invested wisely in schools, transportation and many other areas while protecting the public’s right to know.

Ports Are Creating High-Paying, High-Growth Jobs That Help All Of The Sunshine State

/ Categories: Op-Eds
With four of Florida ports among the nation’s top 25 container ports and three among the top cruise ports in the world, the economic vitality of Florida’s ports should be an important focus of our state leaders. These ports are hubs of commerce and tourism that generate high-paying, sustainable jobs for Floridians while cementing our role and brand as the gateway for the Americas.

We Must Continue Fight To Protect Public's Right To Maintain A Vigilant Eye On Their Elected Officials

/ Categories: Op-Eds
The cornerstone of our constitutional democratic republic is protecting citizens’ right to full and public notice when their elected officials are discussing or making decisions that could affect everyone’s daily lives. As a non-partisan research taxpayer research institute that focuses on promoting government accountability and transparency, Florida TaxWatch supports the use of public notices in local newspapers of record by government entities to notify citizens of meetings and votes.

Expanding Job Opportunities for Non-Violent Offenders

/ Categories: Op-Eds

With more than‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩ100,000‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩinmates‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩbehind bars,‚Ä≠ ‚ĨFlorida’s correctional population is among the largest in the United States.

One of the primary causes for the high population is that more than two-thirds of offenders are re-arrested and‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩmore than one-in-four‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩreturn to prison within three years of their release.‚Ä≠  ‚ĨWhen these individuals cycle in and out of state and local facilities,‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩthey run up an enormous bill that is shouldered by Florida taxpayers.‚Ä≠ ‚ĨIt costs an average of‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩnearly‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩ$19,000‚Ä≠ ‚Ĩper year to house an inmate‚Ä≠ – ‚Ĩmore than three times the cost of tuition at the University of Florida.‚Ä≠

Floridians Have Historic Opportunity to Control Their Government

/ Categories: Op-Eds

While virtually every Floridian has some interaction with state government,‭ ‬it is easy for the average citizen to feel distanced from the political process of Tallahassee.‭ ‬And it can be easy for our elected leaders to feel distanced from their constituents if they do not regularly hear from the voters.

But every Floridian has a unique opportunity to share suggestions on how to make their state government more efficient and effective.

Florida Students Deserve Higher Bar for Accountability

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida students deserve the chance to succeed in their education, their careers and their lives.

Measuring how well our schools are doing is critical to their success. For years, Florida has had clear and transparent school grades. These grades have been used not only to grade our schools, but to provide support for how to improve them.

Florida the New High-Tech Frontier

/ Categories: Op-Eds
Silicon Valley is synonymous with global technology, but could Florida be the next frontier? A new high-tech hub being developed outside Orlando will thrust the Sunshine State into the global advanced manufacturing industry, and promises high-skill jobs, new capital and the influence of a multibillion dollar industry.

Taxpayers Deserve More Than Checking The Box

/ Categories: Op-Eds

Florida taxpayers and their children are facing more than $10.5 billion in debt due to increasingly rich and consistently over-promised government pensions.

These obligations will be paid by taxpayers who don't have access to similar benefits in the private sector, because pension plan beneficiaries take on no risk, yet the taxpayers indemnify losses. State laws have forced hard-working taxpayers into larger losses because of their mandates to increase required local government benefits.

Recalculating Class Size Keeps Classrooms Small, Allows for Investment in Students and Teachers

/ Categories: Op-Eds

A nonpartisan report from Florida TaxWatch analyzes the opportunities to reform the state’s class size restrictions to better educate Florida students.  The solution would reduce class size compliance costs and increase the investment in other, proven tools to increase student achievement. TaxWatch recommends that the state uniformly employ a class size calculation that is discriminately used for only some public schools, which would result in a multi-billion dollar savings for Florida taxpayers. By adjusting the calculation of class sizes to a school level average, schools would be able to keep classes small without handcuffing principals and administrators who are tasked with creating a positive learning environment for all students.