Budget Watch - Projected Surplus Not As Large As It Seems

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
It is estimated that the 2016 Florida Legislature will have a budget surplus for FY2016-17, meaning major budget cuts should not be needed and there should be some money left over for new initiatives. After funding a continuation budget, including expected cost increases in current programs and other historically funded items, it is anticipated that there will be $635.4 million (including an allowance for $1 billion in cash reserves) in General Revenue (GR) left over.

Budget Watch - General Revenue Forecast for FY 2016-17

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide
State economists predict lawmakers will have $657.5 million more than previously anticipated for the next state budget. The latest General Revenue (GR) forecast shows the state's GR fund is expected to reach $31.6 billion for the 2016-17 budget year. The growing available funds mean recurring revenues exceed current recurring expenses by $1.6 billion.

Florida's 2015 Mid-Year Job Growth

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide
In the past 12 months, the Sunshine State has experienced a 3.4 percent increase in non-farm employment with positive gains month-to-month, and has seen a steady drop in its unemployment rate. This report looks at the numbers.

2015 Budget Turkey Watch Report

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Taxpayer Guide
Despite lawmakers' efforts to increase transparency while crafting the 2015-16 Florida state budget, 189 projects worth $167 million were inserted into the budget without sufficient public scrutiny, or circumventing established budget processes, and found their way to the Budget Turkey Watch list.

Budget Watch - 2015 Special Session Preview

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Lawmakers return to Tallahassee next week to finish budget negotiations, but will have to resolve more than differences in healthcare spending. The May edition of Budget Watch outlines the scope of the Special Session, noting that lawmakers will also consider conforming bills ranging from transportation networks to child welfare agencies.

2015 How Florida Compares: Taxes

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Florida has always had the reputation of being a low tax state. While this common perception is borne out by the newest available data contained in this report, the full picture is more complicated. This report provides detailed tax ranking information for Florida as compared to the rest of the nation.

Taxpayer Independence Day 2015

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Monday, April 20 Florida TaxWatch celebrates Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2015: the day Floridians are finally earning money for themselves and 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. In 2015, for the average Florida household, paying its taxes takes 110 out of 365 days, or more than three and a half months.

Budget Watch - House and Senate Proposed Budgets

A more than $4 billion dollar difference between the House and Senate budget proposals is detailed in this annual analysis of the initial budgets, which shows that the largest point of contention between the chambers is in funding the health and human services portion of the budget.

Florida's Retail Sales Growth Outpaces Nation

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide
November marks the beginning of the holiday season and the start of retailers’ busiest days of the year. This year, Florida holiday sales are expected to be better than those in 2013, according to the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida. This is good news for Florida, since retail trade is the third-largest employer by industry, and general sales taxes make up 74.2 percent of the state’s General Revenue.

Taxing Thanksgiving

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Local Government, Taxpayer Guide
Floridians have another reason to be thankful this holiday season: Florida is not one of the 14 states in the nation that tax groceries. While most food that Florida residents prepare themselves for a Thanksgiving feast is exempt, some of the items on dinner tables may be subject to the state's sales tax, ranging from six to 7.5 percent.

Budget Watch - Florida's Business Tax Climate Judged to be the Nation's 5th Best

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
A new national report ranking Florida's business climate as 5th best in the nation highlights the state's strengths but may overstate the attractiveness of Florida's tax system, according to this report. The ranking is from the Tax Foundation's 2015 Business Tax Climate Index, an annual publication that analyzes how tax structures compare across states.

Budget Watch - Small Surplus Projected for Next Florida State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Florida lawmakers are expected to have a small budget surplus when they come to Tallahassee in 2015. State economists have predicted that funding a continuation budget next year will leave $336.2 million in available General Revenue funds. This is the fourth surplus in four years, despite being less than half of the surplus in fiscal year 2013-14.

Budget Watch - Budget Outlook Becoming Clearer

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Florida's latest cycle of revenue and expenditure estimating conferences show that Florida is still in a healthy post-recession recovery; however, the conferences have resulted in forecasts with slightly tempered expectations. Generally, projections of revenues were reduced from the previous estimates, even though the funds are expected to continue to grow year over year.
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