Florida's state agencies are requesting $75.602 billion from the Legislature in 2015, a modest increase of $660.8 million. Eighteen of the state's agencies are asking for more money in the upcoming budget year, while twelve agencies have proposed reducing their funding levels.
The Center for Government Efficiency defines government efficiency as the intersection of cost avoidance, targeted investments and effective governance, three characteristics that define the recommendations included in this year's report, which could save Florida taxpayers billions of dollars.
While Florida's $30 billion investment in smaller class sizes has not resulted in increased achievement for public school students, smaller schools promise a variety of education-related benefits. This report shows a variety of positive outcomes stemming from smaller schools rather than smaller class sizes.
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.
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.
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.
This infographic shows job growth in Florida over the past year.
On the precipice of college football kickoff, this report highlights the economic benefits of Florida's seven Division I NCAA football teams, and explains how football programs increase revenue for schools and the state as a whole.
Investment in Floridas tourism industry resulted in nearly 76,000 jobs created in 2013, according to this report. The independent analysis shows that the state should meet the goal of attracting 100 million visitors to Florida by 2015, which has a significant impact on job creation in the state.
When the 2015 Legislature convenes in Tallahassee, it is expected to have nearly $30 billion in General Revenue to create the state budget for FY 2015-16. However, after this month's GR Estimating Conference, the new General Revenue projection is $141.6 million less than previously thought.
From August 1-3, Floridians will save nearly $40 million in taxes while they shop tax-free for back-to-school supplies. Florida families can purchase clothing, school supplies, and even computers up to $750 tax-free. This infographic shows the estimated savings for taxpayers over the history of this annual tax holiday.
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.
This years Budget Turkey Report finds $120 million in projects slipped into the budget without a full and transparent review.
The 2014 Session has come to a close, and this Florida TaxWatch report details all of the issues that we followed this year.
This BudgetWatch report compares the FY2014-15 House and Senate budgets in each spending area, and shows the change versus the current fiscal year.
Florida could save significant corrections costs by reducing prison sentences for nonviolent offenders, according to data analysis in this report. The report calls for the state to review options to reduce the prison population through downgrading offenses and implementing alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent, level one and two offenders.
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.
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.
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.
In the second yearly installment of the TaxWatch look at the issue of Trust Fund sweeps, this report looks at two consecutive years of sweeps from various funds, and recommends a separate bill for each desired sweep by the Legislature.
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.
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.
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.
Many local governments in Florida have taken advantage of the practice of selling advertising on local transit vehicles and bus shelters, similar to the recommendations made by Florida TaxWatch in multiple cost-savings reports. TaxWatch evaluates allowing advertising on the boxes that house traffic signal controllers in this Report.
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.