2014 Taxpayer Independence Day

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Local Government, Taxpayer Guide
Florida taxpayers have a reason to celebrate on Tuesday, April 22nd. The date marks Taxpayer Independence Day as estimated by Florida TaxWatch. April 22nd, 2014, is the first day in the calendar year that Florida taxpayers, on average, will begin earning income that does not go toward federal, state and local taxes.

STATEMENT: TaxWatch Commends Governor and Legislature for Reducing Vehicle Registration Fees

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Cost Savings
Florida TaxWatch commends the Legislature for passing and Governor Scott for signing the first tax relief bill of the 2014 Legislative Session to reduce vehicle registration fees for all Floridians. This good bill will put up to $25 back in the pockets of each Florida driver and is a great way to make sure all Floridians benefit from broad tax relief. As a part of Governor Scotts "Its Your Money Tax Cut" that has been wisely embraced by the Legislature, reducing these vehicle registration fees will save Floridians $394.5 million annually.

Comparing the House, Senate and Governor Tax Cut Proposals

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps
The competing House and Senate tax cut proposals have many differences that need to be worked out, but there are beneficial provisions in both plans, according to this report, which compares the three proposals suggested by the Florida House, Senate and Governor Rick Scott to provide $500 million in tax cuts during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Taking a Fresh Look at Florida's Class Size Limits

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Education, Cost Savings
Since voters approved a 2002 Constitutional Amendment to reduce class sizes, taxpayers have spent more than $27 billion (including capital facilties and operating costs) to comply with the law, despite research that shows smaller class sizes do not result in higher achievement levels for students in grades 4-12. According to this report, changing the calculations for determining class size restrictions would better serve students and could save taxpayers $10 billion over ten years.

When it Costs More to Pay Less

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Corrections/Judicial, Cost Savings
Florida's Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders are significantly undercompensated, as shown in findings from this research report. The new report analyzes Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender pay across each of Florida's judicial circuits and finds that their low pay contributes to high turnover rates, causing delays in judicial processing and increased taxpayer investment in new employee training, costing taxpayers more than $15 million annually.

Budget Watch - Latest Estimating Conferences

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Economic Development, Cost Savings
Already enjoying what is called a more than $1 billion budget surplus to appropriate during the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers were given another $150 million by the latest General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference. This Budget Watch report for this coming fiscal year examines the latest round of estimating conferences by state economists and recommends that the Legislature still consider this a tight budget year and continue to implement cost-saving reforms such as those identified by the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency.

Economic Impact Evaluation of a Proposed Honeybee Research and Extension Laboratory in Florida

A new honeybee research facility could make Florida a global leader in agricultural research and is estimated to return more than $1 million in state tax revenue to Florida. The proposed facility, to be established at the University of Florida, would attract research revenue as well as help recruit and retain top researchers and students.

Budget Watch - Florida's Finances Strong

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps
The fiscal condition of Florida's state government is in good shape as evidenced by a new study that ranks the state sixth overall in the nation, though there are some limitations with the reports findings, according to this analysis by Florida TaxWatch.

Reforming Florida's IT Governance Structure

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps
Florida must have an integrated Information Technology (IT) Governance model to improve IT services and reduce costs, according to this Report. The Report analyzes Florida's needs and options and finds that a federated governance structure will reduce duplicative IT investments and allow the state to allocate resources more efficiently.

Budget Watch - Governor's Proposed Budget - FY2014-15

Highlights from Governor Rick Scott's proposed budget plan for FY 2014-15 are featured in this Budget Watch Report. The $74.20 billion spending plan is slightly lower than current year spending, even as lawmakers are expected to have their first budget surplus in many years.

Modern Management & Sensible Savings

This Report, from the TaxWatch Center for Government Efficiency, highlights more than $1 billion in savings for Florida taxpayers, without reducing state-provided services. The six comprehensive recommendations included in the Report address replacement of the state's accounting system; information technology governance, procurement and state asset management; pension reform; criminal justice reform; state health insurance reforms; and revenue maximization.

Florida's Revenue Opportunities Under Sec 179D

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Energy/Environment, Transportation, Cost Savings
Florida is neglecting millions of dollars in federal tax incentives, according to this Briefing. Federal legislation allows for tax deductions to offset the cost of energy efficient new buildings or building renovations, which result in added value to the state. TaxWatch recommends the state identify public buildings that could receive the tax deduction.

2013 Turkey Watch Report with Governors Vetoes

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Taxes, Budget/Approps
UPDATED: With Vetoes The 2013 Florida TaxWatch Turkey Watch Report identifies $106.8 million in Budget Turkeys. This annual Report identifies appropriations that appear in the budget at the last minute, bypassing the legislatively-established competitive process and receiving little or no public review. This years Report highlights 107 projects that deserve extra consideration for veto by the Governor.

2013 Turkey Watch Report

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Taxes, Budget/Approps
The 2013 Florida TaxWatch Turkey Watch Report identifies $106.8 million in Budget Turkeys. This annual Report identifies appropriations that appear in the budget at the last minute, bypassing the legislatively-established competitive process and receiving little or no public review. This years Report highlights 107 projects that deserve extra consideration for veto by the Governor.

2013 Taxpayer Independence Day

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Sunday, April 21, is Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2013, as estimated by Florida TaxWatch. 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.

Bringing FL-SOLARIS to Life

According to this Briefing, progress on the organization of state-owned lands and facilities records has been made, although there is more to be done. The large, yet basic database has been established, but the important tasks of maintaining its relevance and making improvements remain. Phase II of this project offers significant taxpayer value.
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