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. 

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 - 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.

Budget Watch - Legislation Affecting Florida Revenues

All the bills passed by the 2014 Legislature have now been evaluated by the state's revenue estimators, resulting in a revenue reduction of more than $550 in the current fiscal year. Local revenues will be reduced by $41.5 million and $37.0 million. Despite the declining revenue estimates, the reduction still leaves $1.65 billion in general revenue reserves for the fiscal year, according to the July Budget Watch.

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, Cost Savings, Education
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, Cost Savings, Economic Development
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.
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