Budget Watch - 2016-17 Legislative Budget Requests

Florida’s state government agencies have requested $77.835 billion in funding from the Legislature for FY2016-17, which is $1.2 billion (1.6 percent) more than these agencies are expected to spend in the current year. The total request is made up of $29.481 billion in general revenue (GR) and $48.354 billion in trust funds. The GR request is an increase of $854.5 million (3.0 percent). The latest revenue estimates forecast $31.653 billion in GR will be available for FY2016-17 meaning that the agency requests would leave GR reserves of $2 billion.

Stemming Florida's Physician Shortage

/ Categories: Research, Health Care
Despite advances in delivery methods, new medical schools, and its emergence as a global medical destination, Florida’s healthcare system is facing a significant challenge, as the demand for doctors in the state of Florida is outpacing the current supply. This issue affects not only Florida’s healthcare system, it can also have repercussions on the economy.

Reducing the Business Rent Tax

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Economic Development, Cost Savings
A reduction in the BRT would be broad-based, benefiting a large number of businesses. All businesses that rent commercial real estate pay the sales tax on those rents, regardless of their profitability or financial shape. Reducing the sales tax would help be a significant help to struggling companies. It would also help new businesses, who may find that other startup costs rule out purchasing real estate as an option.

Economy Heating Up in South Florida

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Tourism, Local Government
Over the past few years Florida’s economy has been on the rise, finally shaking off the economic pain from the great recession. This positive growth has helped stimulate development in South Florida in particular. In a recent survey, more than 80% of small businesses in South Florida reported that they expect to meet or exceed their 2015 revenue targets. And the economic growth is not limited to small businesses; the South Florida Region has also seen a growth in sectors such as construction, financial services, innovation, and more.

Budget Watch - Projected Surplus Not As Large As It Seems

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
It is estimated that the 2016 Florida Legislature will have a budget surplus for FY2016-17, meaning major budget cuts should not be needed and there should be some money left over for new initiatives. After funding a continuation budget, including expected cost increases in current programs and other historically funded items, it is anticipated that there will be $635.4 million (including an allowance for $1 billion in cash reserves) in General Revenue (GR) left over.

Trophies and Transcripts

/ Categories: Research, Education
More than just boasting and claiming bragging rights, success on the field can actually affect a school’s academic standing off the field. Studies have shown that a school’s successful athletic program can have a positive impact on a university’s exposure, attracting students to the university, as well as increasing application, retention, and graduation rates.

Budget Watch - General Revenue Forecast for FY 2016-17

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide
State economists predict lawmakers will have $657.5 million more than previously anticipated for the next state budget. The latest General Revenue (GR) forecast shows the state's GR fund is expected to reach $31.6 billion for the 2016-17 budget year. The growing available funds mean recurring revenues exceed current recurring expenses by $1.6 billion.

Florida's 2015 Mid-Year Job Growth

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide
In the past 12 months, the Sunshine State has experienced a 3.4 percent increase in non-farm employment with positive gains month-to-month, and has seen a steady drop in its unemployment rate. This report looks at the numbers.

Jacksonville Poised for Sustained Growth

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development, Local Government
Ask most people which city in the U.S. is the largest, and you will likely hear New York, or Los Angeles, or one of the other “major” cities around the country. The truth, however, is that the largest city in the country is Jacksonville, Florida, at 874.6 square miles. While the size of Jacksonville may not be well known, even fewer may realize that the city is a rising star of startup activity and job creation.

2015 Budget Turkey Watch Report

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Taxpayer Guide
Despite lawmakers' efforts to increase transparency while crafting the 2015-16 Florida state budget, 189 projects worth $167 million were inserted into the budget without sufficient public scrutiny, or circumventing established budget processes, and found their way to the Budget Turkey Watch list.

Budget Watch - 2015 Special Session Preview

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Lawmakers return to Tallahassee next week to finish budget negotiations, but will have to resolve more than differences in healthcare spending. The May edition of Budget Watch outlines the scope of the Special Session, noting that lawmakers will also consider conforming bills ranging from transportation networks to child welfare agencies.

Ideas in Action: Improving Law Enforcement Communications

/ Categories: Research, Guest Columns
Last year, Florida TaxWatch called for increased spending for public defenders and state attorneys to ensure justice is available for defendants and victims involved in Florida’s court system. The legislature heeded TaxWatch’s recommendation in the 2014 budget. This year, lawmakers should extend their commitment to funding the justice system to law enforcement by investing in the replacement of the state’s law enforcement radio system.

Squeezing the Greening out of Florida Citrus

/ Categories: Research, Energy/Environment
Florida's world-renowned, $10 billion citrus industry is an important sector of the state economy, providing thousands of jobs and capital to agricultural regions. As the nation's largest supplier of citrus, the success of this industry is vital to Florida's diversified economy.

Could Florida Be The Next High-Tech Hub?

/ Categories: Research, Economic Development
A Central Florida technology research center could help launch the state's high-tech manufacturing industry and ignite economic growth. The development of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center through the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research will help create, develop and support high-tech Florida companies producing smart sensor technologies for high-tech manufacturing goods.

2015 How Florida Compares: Taxes

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Florida has always had the reputation of being a low tax state. While this common perception is borne out by the newest available data contained in this report, the full picture is more complicated. This report provides detailed tax ranking information for Florida as compared to the rest of the nation.

Ideas In Action: Innovations in Healthcare

/ Categories: Research, Guest Columns
Limited health care resources combined with an increased demand for quality care in Florida has led to essential innovations in our current health care delivery system. Telemedicine is one such innovation that Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare has implemented to expand access to care and extend the reach and impact of health care providers.
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