One of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the safety and welfare of those in its care. This includes indigents who are accused of wrongdoing and who would otherwise be unable to afford a private attorney to defend them. It is essential that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused is afforded all rights under Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution, including the right to a speedy trial and the right to have the assistance of competent defense counsel, even if they cannot afford it.
Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present taxpayers with a guide to the FY2022-23 state budget, which went into effect July 1, 2022. The report includes all appropriations for the new fiscal year— the General Appropriations Act (GAA), “back-of-bill” spending, and general bills—net of the Governor’s vetoes.
The 2022 legislative session is over, even if it ran a little long. Florida TaxWatch and the state’s taxpayers had a number of successes. Many bills and budget issues supported by our research and recommendations passed. Our research and input that raised concerns with legislation, helped to improve them or fail passage, including changes to the tax audit system and a very costly approach to improving data privacy
The 2022 Florida Legislature is debating two pieces of legislation that add to the process of passing local ordinances and provides additional rights to businesses and residents who wish to challenge those ordinances. This Session Spotlight takes a detailed look at SB620/CS/HB569 & CS/SB280/HB403.
To identify areas in need of improvement, this report is a longitudinal analysis of the state’s sentencing, incarceration, prisoner, and correctional budget histories.
This report recommends the implementation of a “Judicial Safety Valve” that would give judges the discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums for low-level offenders, but maintain the rights of victims, offenders, their attorneys, and the state to have input on sentencing decisions at sentencing hearings.
This briefing explores Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion programs, which re-route certain juvenile offenders in ways that hold them accountable while sparing them from an arrest record and lessening the burden on taxpayers.
To decrease recidivism and increase the return on state investment in corrections, offenders need to be able to find jobs and keep them; however, there are several barriers to this goal. This paper addresses some of these barriers and makes policy recommendations.
Florida can no longer rely on the outdated and inefficient policies of the past, and must begin to consider policies and practices that not only keep Floridians safe, but also address the two primary drivers of growth in the criminal justice system: overincarceration and recidivism. The recommendations detailed in this report, while by no means an exhaustive list of necessary improvements, aim to put Florida on the path to achieve these goals.
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.
With Florida's crime rate at its lowest point in nearly five decades, this report recommends policy improvements to reduce cost and improve the efficacy of the criminal justice system. The data from the report show the contrast between Florida's falling crime rate and rising prison population.
A more than $4 billion dollar difference between the House and Senate budget proposals is detailed in this annual analysis of the initial budgets, which shows that the largest point of contention between the chambers is in funding the health and human services portion of the budget.
Florida's prison population is rapidly increasing despite declining crime rates, and this report recommends options to prevent increasing costs from overwhelming taxpayers. The report warns that the steadily growing elderly prison population in state facilities will require more costly medical care, resulting in additional budget concerns for an already struggling Department of Corrections.
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 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'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.
This Briefing recommends that the state decriminalize the possession of minor amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone, and lower mandatory minimums to save significant tax dollars, reduce prison populations, and help shift the focus to treatment for substance abuse problems.
This Briefing recommends that the state put in place the guidelines for an Adult Civil Citation program, patterned on the existing Juvenile Civil Citation program, which offers an alternative process to misdemeanor arrest for first-time nonviolent youth offenders.
Based on the fact that license revocation is very common in Florida, this report recommends that the state remove the felony sanctions for driving while license suspended, which would align Florida with penalties in similar states, reduce prison populations, and save taxpayer money.
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.
According to this Report, expanding reentry programs in Florida could prevent inmates from returning to state correctional facilities and reduce costs for taxpayers.
In order to meet the growing demand for juvenile justice programs throughout Florida, many new programs have been developed. But in order for Florida to take full advantage of available resources, it is essential to know what those resources are. This Inventory is the first step in the process of creating a comprehensive list.
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 Boys and Girls Clubs (FBGC) participants demonstrate significant differences in educational and juvenile justice outcomes versus similar peers who do not take advantage of the FBGC programs, according to this Special Report.