The severe economic contraction brought on by COVID-19 has reduced state revenues significantly. The pandemic is also increasing government costs such as virus response/recovery and assistance to those harmed economically by the public health emergency. This spells trouble for the current and future state budgets.
After 128 months of economic expansion through February 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic brought on the largest post-war contraction in U.S. history. With the resulting closure or slowdown of businesses, record unemployment, and a loss of tourism, Florida’s economy is suffering. The impact on government revenue has been and will continue to be profound. The General Revenue Estimating Conference met on August 14 and reduced the revenue projections by $3.420 billion in the current budget year and $1.994 billion in FY2021-22. This follows news that actual collections in FY2019-20 fell $1.9 billion short of the estimate.
As Florida continues its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has released General Revenue (GR) collections data for June (the last month of the FY19-20 fiscal year).1 Collections came in $427.8 million (13.4 percent) below estimate, following losses of $878.1 million (29.4 percent) in April and $779.6 million (26.4) percent in May. Because collections were running a bit above estimate before the pandemic hit, the $2.1 billion loss in the last quarter puts Florida down $1.9 billion (5.7 percent) for the year.
After deducting the Governor’s vetoes, the net result is FY2020-21 appropriations totaling $92.270 billion, still a $1.3 billion increase over the previous year. As is usually the case, it is the largest state budget in history. In addition to many facts and figures explaining this year’s budget, past data are also provided to put it in historical context. We hope this annual budget pocket guide gives you the information you need to better understand where and how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.
General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of May came in $779.6 million (26.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from the new Monthly Revenue Report, just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 It is somewhat surprising that the amount by which May GR collections fell short of the previous estimates is less than that of April ($878.1 million). May collections largely reflect sales activity in April, a month that was almost entirely under the statewide ‘Safer at Home’ order.
A Roadmap for a Responsible Recovery
As the nation recovers from one of the worst economic recessions in history, Florida continues to battle unprecedented fiscal challenges and budget shortfalls that have made business-as-usual in state government unsustainable. In response to this crisis, this report presents immediately actionable ideas in the event that a significant budget deficit occurs in FY2020-21.
An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process
The report promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting.
Net General Revenue (GR) collections for the month of April came in $878.1 million (29.4 percent) below estimate. This news comes from a new Monthly Revenue Report just released by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.1 This is the first month of data to show a significant decrease in revenues due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. April GR collections generally reflect March sales tax activity, so the decline in May collections (reflecting April sales) will be much larger.
The bills passed by the 2020 Legislature included many recommended or supported by Florida TaxWatch research. The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.
The 2020 tax package (HB 7097) was amended many times as it moved through the process. At first, it grew topping $230 million in tax savings at one point. Then, citing a need to keep more money in reserves for COVID-19 response, it started getting smaller. The following is a description of all the provisions that were in the many versions of HB 7097. This report starts with what’s in the final and follows with what dropped out along the way.