2019 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-Up

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

The 2019 Florida Legislative Session is over. Lawmakers approved 197 bills this year, setting a record for the fewest bills passed (at least since 2001, and likely long before that). The amount of bills passed has been steadily declining. This is probably a good thing, but it also reflects the use of “trains,” strike-all amendments, and adding brand new issues to bills at the last minute, things that certainly occurred this year. Still, there was some good legislation that passed and, as always, some missed opportunities and some great ideas that became less so as the process wore on.

Session Spotlight: 2019 Tax Package

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps

On Thursday, May 2, the Senate took up the tax package passed by the House (HB 7123) and adopted a strike-all amendment that put the Senate package on the bill. It kept many of the provisions (with some changes), added some new provisions, and removed one controversial provision, and changed another.

Taxpayer Independence Day 2019

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

On Sunday, April 14, Florida TaxWatch joins the taxpayers in our state in celebrating Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2019. 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. 

The Legislature Must Stop Diverting Affordable Housing Funding

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

There is an affordable housing crisis in Florida. It is truly a nationwide problem, but it is especially acute in the Sunshine State. The availability of affordable housing for lower-income families in Florida is lower than almost all other states, and most of those at the lower end of the income scale that do have places to live are overburdened with housing costs they cannot afford.

Budget Watch - Analysis Of The House & Senate Budgets For FY2019-20

DIFFERENCES IN EDUCATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND MORE MUST BE WORKED OUT

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

At the halfway mark of the 2019 Legislative Session, the House and Senate approved their proposed state budgets for FY2019-20. Both spending plans exceed current spending—the Senate by more than $1.0 billion and the House by $588.4 million. The House increases current General Revenue (GR) spending by $609.5 million (1.9 percent), while the Senate increases GR by $841.2 million (2.6 percent).

Session Spotlight: E-Fairness Legislation Moving in 2019

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, E-Fairness

Florida TaxWatch has researched this issue for more than 15 years, producing numerous reports and offerings recommendations. But the courts’ physical presence requirement has always been a major obstacle. But now that obstacle is gone as a result of the US Supreme Court’s Wayfair decision, and it is time for the Legislature to fix this. Senate Bill 1112 can achieve this long-elusive goal. 

Wayfair: Formulating A Florida Response

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, E-Fairness

The non-collection of sales taxes on sales to Florida customers by remote (out-of-state) sellers has been the most significant tax compliance and collection issue facing Florida and other states for many years. Remote vendors sell products by the internet, telephone, and mail. Historically, the courts have held that when a remote seller makes a sale to a person in a state in which the seller does not have a physical presence, that state cannot require the seller to collect the sales tax due and remit it to the state. 

Reducing the Communications Services Tax Would Provide Relief to Virtually All Florida Families and Businesses; Florida’s High Tax Rate is Punitive, Distortionary, and Non-Competitive

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

Since the enactment of the Communications Services Tax (CST) Simplification Act in 2001, Florida TaxWatch has released several reports recommending that the Legislature reduce this burdensome and highly regressive tax on consumers. Florida’s CST is very high, relative to both other states and the sales tax on the purchase of other goods. This high rate makes the tax punitive and distortionary, and makes the state less competitive than other states, including the potential for reducing investment in broadband network infrastructure. 

The True Cost Of Public Education In Florida 2.0

/ Categories: Research, Education

Per-student spending is an easy-to-use measure by which taxpayers can evaluate public school spending and efficiency. Most taxpayers, however, have little or no idea how much is spent per student in public schools. The most commonly reported per-student spending figures in Florida are based solely on funding provided through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). For the 2017-18 school year, Florida public schools would have spent an average of $7,307 “per student” in FEFP funding. TaxWatch research shows that this is not, in fact, the true cost of education in Florida.

Budget Watch - New GR Estimates Reduced Slightly

HURRICANE MICHAEL BUDGET AMENDMENTS NOW TOTAL $443 MILLION; MORE THAN $200 MILLION IN CORPORATE INCOME TAXES COULD BE REFUNDED

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The eagerly awaited final General Revenue (GR) estimates to be used for the next state budget are out. Legislators and appropriations lobbyists were hoping for an infusion of cash to ease a tight budget year, made even tighter by hurricane-related costs and the competing costly priorities of the Governor and legislative leaders. Well, that did not happen. The estimates did not change much, decreasing by a total of $7.4 million.

Truth in Property Taxation Can be Hard to Come By

Public Notice of Important Property Tax Changes should not be Diminished

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Local Government

The TRIM process is a vital taxpayer protection tool and we should continually strive to make it better. Lessening the ability of taxpayers to access this information weakens the law. Taxpayers deserve to get concise, accurate and unvarnished information about how local government decisions affect the property taxes that they pay.

An Analysis of Point-of-Care Testing & Treatment for Influenza, Influenza-Like Illness, and Group A Streptococcus

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

Point-of-care tests are simple medical tests that can be conducted at or near the point of care. Point-of-care tests bring the test immediately and conveniently to the patient. Legislation has been proposed that would permit pharmacists to diagnose and treat influenza and strep at community pharmacies, using point-of-care tests that have approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. TaxWatch undertakes this independent analysis of point-of-care testing and treatment of influenza and strep at the at the request of Representative Rene Plasencia, the sponsor of the proposed House legislation.

Analyzing the Fiscal Impact of the Energy Deregulation Constitutional Amendment

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Energy/Environment, Local Government, Voter Guides

A proposed constitutional amendment initiative that would destructure Florida’s energy market may appear on the November 2020 general election ballot that would (if approved) radically change Florida’s energy market.  This independent analysis estimates the financial impacts of deregulation on tax revenues and to help Florida taxpayers better understand the effects of the proposed deregulation.

2018 Annual Report

/ Categories: Research, Annual Reports

The Florida TaxWatch Annual Report for 2018, details the work of the organization over the past year, our Principal Leadership Award winners, and our many successful events.

Budget Watch - General Revenue Estimates Inject $842 Million Into The Next Budget Process

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Less than a week after the Senate Appropriations Committee heard a gloomy presentation on the outlook for the upcoming budget, the General Revenue Estimating Conference met on December 18 and increased the revenue projections by $461.5 million in FY2018-19 and another $380.5 million in FY2019-20. This means the 2019 Legislature will have an estimated $842 million more in General Revenue (GR) collections for the next state budget than was previously expected.

2018 Voter Guide Wrap-Up: $1.5 Billion in Local Tax Referenda

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Voter Guides

On November 6, 2018, Floridians voted on 12 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. Eleven of the 12 passed with at least a 60 percent majority, all but Amendment 1, which would have provided an additional $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. But the amendments were not the only thing that voters had to agree on. In addition to the amendments, voters across Florida chose to put in place a number of local tax measures and new bond issues. 

Keeping Workers' Compensation Premiums Low Through Independent Medical Review

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Health Care, Insurance, Cost Savings

In this research report, TaxWatch looks at the success of the IMR program in California in an attempt to answer the question “what if IMR was in use in Florida?” TaxWatch is pleased to present policymakers and stakeholders with an independent analysis of a program we think may be helpful in keeping the costs of workers’ compensation insurance down while helping to ensure that injured workers receive appropriate treatment.

Is the Sun Setting on Film in Florida?

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development

While the TaxWatch maintains that incentives should not be used as a substitute for the fundamentals of good economic growth, TaxWatch does recommend that incentives for the film and television industry not be ignored as a part of the Florida’s overall economic development strategy.

Governor's Transition Decision Handbook 2018-19

/ Categories: Research

The Handbook is, at its core, a compilation and translation of knowledge and experience from some of the people who have been through the extraordinary and unique endeavor which the new Governor is about to undertake, and a guide to the policy choices that will have to be made as the Governor of Florida.

Budget Watch - Outlook Assumes Legislature Will Sweep Trust Funds

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Florida’s state forecasters estimate that the 2019 Legislature will have a $223.4 million budget surplus when it puts together the state’s new spending plan for FY 2019-20. However, this assumes the Legislature will transfer nearly $400 million from trust funds—money earmarked by law for specific uses—into the General Revenue (GR) Fund.

2018 Voter Guide

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide, Voter Guides

On November 6, 2018, Floridians will vote on 12 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. This Florida TaxWatch Voter Guide is designed to provide voters with information about each of the amendments to help them cast well-informed votes.

12345678910Last