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. 

Budget Watch - Governor's FY2018-19 Recommended Budget

Governor Rick Scott recently released his eighth and final budget recommendation. The $87.375 billion proposed budget will be considered by the 2018 Legislature as it develops the next state budget. The Governor’s spending plan for FY2018-19 represents an increase of 2.9 percent ($2.422 billion) over current year spending. General Revenue (GR) spending of $32.182 billion would be an increase of 2.1 percent ($0.673 billion) over the current year. The budget proposes to fund 113,392 state employee positions, 565 more than currently exist. The proposed budget is $2.648 billion less than was requested by state agencies this fall and funds 1,168 fewer positions than requested.

The budget is viewed by many as ambitious since the state forecasted a very tight budget year and costs due to Hurricane Irma are mounting. This Budget Watch highlights what is in the proposal and what it means for Floridians, examines how the Governor was able to balance a budget that includes tax increases and significant funding initiatives, and looks at budget issue conflicts that may arise during the legislative session.

Governor’s Proposed Budget Snapshot

Total Funding - $87.375 billion—$2.422 billion (2.9 percent) more than current year spending. General Revenue spending would increase by $673 million (2.1 percent), to $32.182 billion.

State Employees – 113,392 state employee positions, 565 more than currently exist. The Governor is recommending 596 new positions, while eliminating 269 (mostly vacant) positions. There is no across the board pay increase for state employees but the Governor is recommending funding for pay increases for the state’s sworn law enforcement offices, juvenile justice detention officers, and Forest Service firefighters.

Tax Cuts - $180 million in state and local tax cuts, $88.2 million of which is are one-time cuts from a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday and three one-week hurricane preparedness holidays. There are $87.8 million in recurring tax relief from a reduction in the cost of driver licenses. The Governor also proposes to provide an 18 percent reduction in some traffic fines if the driver takes a basic driver improvement class ($4.0 million).

Reserves - $5.1 billion, including $1.399 billion in unallocated General Revenue (cash) reserves.

Trust Fund Sweeps – The Governor proposes to transfer $168.0 million from trust funds to general revenue, most of it ($91.8 million) from the local affordable housing trust fund. Twelve other trust funds are swept, ranging from $500,000 from the (securities) Anti-Fraud TF to $25.0 million from the Professional Regulation TF.

Bonding – The Governor proposes to only issue new bonds for projects in the Department of Transportation work program (up to $739 million).

Tuition – No tuition increase for colleges or universities.

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