Bringing Florida's Budget Back From COVID-19

A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Cost Savings

As the nation recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in history, Florida continues to battle unprecedented fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls that have made business-as-usual in state government unsustainable. In response to this crisis, this report presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.

2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The report 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. 

Budget Watch - April's General Revenue Collections Come in $878 Million Below Estimate for the Month

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

Net General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of April came in $878.1 million (29.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from a new Monthly Revenue Report just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 This is the first month of data to show a significant decrease in revenues due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. April GR collections generally reflect March sales tax activity, so the decline in May collections (reflecting April sales) will be much larger.

Telehealth in Florida: Where We Are and What is Next

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

Telehealth is being practiced in Florida every day pursuant to the standards of practice for telehealth adopted by the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. These standards require a Florida license and provide that the standards of care shall remain the same regardless of whether healthcare services are provided in person or by telehealth. There is no shortage of licensed physicians willing to provide telehealth in Florida. Florida statute 456.47, enacted in 2019, is the governing language for the practice of telehealth in Florida. Currently, health insurance companies are not required to pay or reimburse telehealth services, they do so on a voluntary basis pursuant to Florida statutes

Taxpayer Independence Day 2020

Floridians’ tax burden is going to decrease but so is our ability to pay for it

/ Categories: Research, Taxes

Every year, right around the usual April 15 deadline to pay your federal taxes, Florida TaxWatch releases our Taxpayer Independence Day report. This marks the symbolic date that Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–not for the government. This 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 and serves as a gauge for how fast government is growing versus our ability to pay for it. 

State and Local Funding Under the CARES Act

/ Categories: Research

In two dashboards, we explored the distribution of $150 billion in federal aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the different states and to qualifying local governments. Each state is allocated an amount proportional to its population size with at least $1.25 billion guaranteed regardless of population share. In addition, local governments with populations over 500,000 can also claim up to 45% of the amount allocated for their population, while the other 55% is retained by the state to serve that same population. Also, a second dashboard shows the distribution among Florida’s qualifying local governments.

Florida's Top Public Employers by County

/ Categories: Research

This Florida TaxWatch Briefing analyzes the significance of public employment in Florida by breaking down the ten largest employers per county (by number of employees) based on whether they are public or private entities. Public entities fall under four levels: federal, state, county, and municipal governments. Of the 670 entities statewide, 280 are public and 390 are private. 

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.

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