Every Child A Swimmer Update

/ Categories: Research

The "Every Child A Swimmer" report by Florida TaxWatch highlights the high rates of child drownings in Florida, emphasizing the need for widespread swimming education and water safety measures. It advocates for legislative support to enhance water safety and prevent such incidents, stressing their economic and emotional impact.

Florida’s Labor Market Continues Cooling Down at a Slow Rate

/ Categories: Research, Blog

This Florida TaxWatch blog examines labor market changes amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on the U.S. and Florida. It notes a national slowdown in job openings, with a stable 3.7% unemployment rate, contrasting with Florida's lower 2.9% rate and job gains in most sectors. The data suggests a cooling labor market, but not enough to significantly impact inflation. Despite Federal Reserve efforts to slow the economy, there are still more jobs than unemployed persons nationally. Experts no longer anticipate a recession, but inflation concerns persist, especially if the Federal Reserve changes interest rates.

The Impact of Unlicensed Vacation Rentals on Florida's Economy

/ Categories: Research

"Unlicensed Vacation Rentals: An Analysis of Florida's Tourism-Driven Economy" provides an in-depth analysis of the unlicensed vacation rental market in Florida. It highlights the significant impact these rentals have on the state's tourism economy, including issues of tax evasion, safety concerns, and unfair competitive advantages over licensed properties. The research reveals a notable prevalence of unlicensed rentals in Florida, which, in 2022, constituted a significant proportion of the state’s temporary public lodging units. The study brings to light how operators of these unlicensed rentals often circumvent tax obligations, thus negatively impacting the state's revenue and creating an unlevel playing field in the tourism sector. This paper includes recommendations for stricter enforcement of licensing regulations, improved transparency in rental operations, and more efficient tax collection mechanisms to address these challenges. The paper serves as a critical resource for policymakers, business owners in the tourism sector, and tax authorities, providing essential insights to inform decisions and strategies aimed at ensuring a fair and regulated tourism industry in Florida.

It's Time to Reform Florida's Information Technology Procurement and Oversight

/ Categories: Research, Releases

This report highlights the chronic issues plaguing Florida's large-scale IT projects, such as inadequate planning, contracting, and management. These issues have led to the repeated formation and dissolution of a state agency overseeing these projects, with the most recent being the Florida Digital Service (FL[DS]) established in 2020. The paper provides a series of recommendations to prevent the failure of FL[DS]. These include forming a joint House and Senate IT committee for oversight, adopting a new governance model, standardizing statewide agency business processes, and revising Florida Statutes for better IT project procurement and vendor evaluation. Furthermore, the paper suggests methods to attract and retain IT talent, like offering signing bonuses, revising job descriptions to focus on skills, and creating a talent pipeline from the State University System. The report emphasizes the necessity for effective project management and strategic decisions to ensure the success of Florida's IT projects and to safeguard taxpayer investments​​.

Addressing Florida's Escalating Physician Shortage: Strategies and Solutions

/ Categories: Research, Health Care, Releases

This paper addresses the growing issue of physician shortages in Florida. This shortage is primarily driven by an increasing and aging population, coupled with a high rate of physician retirements. The report evaluates the gap between healthcare demand and the supply of physicians, emphasizing the need for more medical students and improved healthcare policies. It discusses strategies like expanding Graduate Medical Education, utilizing telehealth, and leveraging Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to mitigate this shortage. The paper also considers legal and business aspects of practicing medicine in Florida, suggesting improvements to attract and retain healthcare professionals.


 

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools

Q1 (2023-2024)

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC, Releases, BOC

The Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Quarterly Report for Q1 2023-24, presented to the Bond Oversight Committee, marks the midpoint of the school year and Year 10 of the SMART Program. The report acknowledges Resolution 23-109 from May 9, 2023, which recognizes the efforts of the Bond Oversight Committee and Florida TaxWatch in overseeing the SMART Program and notes the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury's identification of program deficiencies. The resolution sets an expectation for the SMART Program's completion by October 31, 2025, including financial close-out and full expenditure of General Obligation Bond funds. The report details various program aspects like safety improvements, technology upgrades, and budget activities, while addressing financial risks and the critical role of oversight committees.

Florida's Labor Resilience: Navigating the National Cool-Down and Local Market Dynamics

/ Categories: Research, Workforce Development

Amidst a national shift towards a cooler labor market with fewer job openings, the study explores the consequent effects on wage trends and inflationary pressures. The focus is on Florida's unique position and its adaptive response to these economic headwinds, highlighting the state's labor market resilience. As job openings decline and employee separations remain high, Florida's experience offers a case study in managing workforce challenges during economic cooldowns. This paper is a must-read for policymakers, economists, and business leaders interested in the interplay between labor markets and inflation, especially those focused on the Sunshine State's economic climate.

An Analysis of the Tax Treatment of Credit Unions: Value of Florida Credit Unions’ Exemption Is Now $259 Million

/ Categories: Research

Originally designed to serve specific community segments, credit unions have since expanded their reach and service offerings, making their tax exemptions increasingly valuable. From 1997's exemption value of $89.1 million, the exemption's worth has risen to $259 million in 2023. This report sheds light on the industry's transformations, recent trends like mergers and acquisitions, and reevaluates the rationale behind the tax exemptions. It aims to fuel informed discussions on credit union taxation and their exemption status.

Water Infrastructure Projects are Vital

Develop and Fund a 3-5 Year Strategic Work Program

/ Categories: Research

Water provides varied and vital benefits to Floridians, our businesses, and visitors. We literally could not live without it. Our water resources are a massive, interconnected system, one that is expensive to maintain. Federal, state, and local governments have been spending a lot of taxpayer money on upkeep and enhancements, but there is still much work to be done.

Septic-to-Sewer: Protecting Florida’s Ground and Surface Water

/ Categories: Research

From the early days on the edge of the Tigris and Euphrates River to now, water has long been a staple of civilization. As discussed in the Florida TaxWatch report “We Can’t Wait on Water” (January 2020), Florida relies upon high-quality water to maintain the well-being of public health, ecosystem services, recreation, property values, and economic activities, such as fishing, boating, sailing, and other water-based tourism. But Florida’s water quality is at risk.

Extending State Group Insurance to the Florida College System

/ Categories: Research, Blog

Serving as the eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch annually reviews the state budget to prepare its Budget Guide, showing how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are spent. This year, consistent with a recommendation by Florida TaxWatch, line item 2923 of the 500-page General Appropriations Act appropriates $500,000 in nonrecurring funds to the Department of Management Services to contract for a comprehensive analysis to determine the fiscal impact and feasibility of extending the State Group Insurance Program (SGIP) to employees of the Florida College System.

 

Economic Benefits of a Robust Childcare System in Florida

/ Categories: Research

Access to affordable, quality child care and early learning programs is essential for keeping parents in the workforce. In July 2022, Florida TaxWatch released “How Childcare Impacts the State’s Economy and Shapes Florida’s Workforce” to examine the risk unstable childcare options pose to the state’s economy. The briefing found that childcare-related turnover can cost $8.2 billion in lost earnings for families, $1.7 billion in turnover expenses for businesses, and $745.3 million in tax revenues, annually. Yet, the availability and capacity of high-quality child care and early learning programs remain limited, and often unaffordable, for many Florida families

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC, Releases, BOC

As the 2023-24 school year begins and students return to class, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) begins Year 10 of the SMART Program. This is significant in that former Superintendent Runcie promised the taxpayers that all SMART projects would start within five years and be completed by year seven.

Jacksonville’s Approach to Reducing Flooding and Stormwater Runoff Using Green Infrastructure

/ Categories: Research

Green infrastructure, including parks and greenways, is becoming an increasingly important resource for cities to use to help reduce flooding and stormwater runoff, especially in high-risk areas. As seen in Jacksonville, these resources can provide $112.8 million in savings from pollution reduction costs while at the same time helping reduce the impact of flooding and stormwater runoff. Green infrastructure also saves taxpayers and cities a significant amount on maintenance costs over the years by eliminating some of the stress for man-made drainage to handle stormwater during intense rainfalls. Using green infrastructure is a critical resource for building more resilient communities that benefit Florida’s residents and businesses and provide cost savings for taxpayers.

An Update on Student Loan Forgiveness

/ Categories: Research, Education, In the News

Over the past few years, with college tuition growing much faster than income after graduation, the mountain of pending student loan debt is growing. This affects the younger generation’s spending capacity, risk-taking willingness, and retirement savings. Recent debates focus on whether student loan debt should be forgiven, how much should be forgiven, the method of forgiveness, and the impact it would have on the future spending of taxpayers.

State General Revenue Estimates Increase Again

CURRENT YEAR SURPLUS NOW $8.8 BILLION

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps

The August 18 General Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) increased Florida’s general revenue projections by $1.567 billion (3.6 percent) in the current budget year and $1.203 billion (2.6 percent) in FY2024-25--a two-year total of $2.770 billion.  Add in the $1.084 billion that actual collections exceeded the previous estimate in the last four months of FY2022-23, and the Legislature has an additional $3.854 billion available for next state budget.  The new estimate accounts for the $1 billion reduction in revenues from 2023 tax relief and other legislative changes. 

Fostering School Success: Unveiling the Effective Strategies of Florida's Top Principals

The 2023 Florida TaxWatch Educations Roundtable Discussion - Summary and Findings

/ Categories: Research, Education

In May 2023, Florida TaxWatch hosted a two-hour roundtable with the latest PLA winners to discuss the philosophies, strategies, challenges, and best practices of effective principals. 

The Taxpayer's Guide to Florida's FY2023-24 State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Taxpayer Guide

Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present taxpayers with a guide to the FY2023-24 state budget, which went into effect July 1, 2023. The 2023 Legislature appropriated a total of $118.7 billion for FY2023-24. This Budget Guide includes all appropriations for the new fiscal year— the General Appropriations Act (GAA), “back-of-the-bill” spending, and appropriations made in general bills—net of the Governor’s vetoes. 

Florida Medicaid Redetermination

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

There are numerous federal programs administered by states that provide assistance to low-income and needy families. During periods of economic downturn, like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, more Florida families turn to these government programs for assistance. One such safety net program is Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program that provides medical coverage to more than five million low-income, elderly, disabled Floridians and children. Signed into federal law in 1965, Medicaid was created to improve the health of those individuals who might otherwise go without medical care for themselves and their children.

Revisiting Housing Affordability in Florida - SB 102 Offers Good Solutions

/ Categories: Research, Blog

As Florida continues to grow, we must ensure that our state remains affordable for people to live, work, and play. Florida’s current population boom saw the state increase its population by nearly 15 percent between 2010 and 2020. The state added a little less than three million residents in under a decade. Florida is currently the fastest growing state in the nation, and we should increase our housing stock to meet these population pressures. 

Monitoring and Oversight of General Obligation Bonds to Improve Broward County Schools: SMART Program Quarterly Report

/ Categories: Research, Broward BOC

The Broward County Public Schools’ Bond Oversight Committee Quarterly Report for the Quarter Ended March 31, 2023 (“District Quarterly Report”) provides updated information on the implementation of the District’s SMART Program and the use of General Obligation Bond funds to purchase and install technology upgrades; purchase music, arts, and theater equipment; improve school safety and security; upgrade athletic facilities; and renovate educational facilities.

2023 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget/Approps, Budget Turkeys, Taxpayer Guide

This is the Florida TaxWatch annual independent review of Florida’s FY2023-24 budget process. The report was started in 1983 and promotes 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 thorough, thoughtful, transparent, and accountable.  Every appropriation should receive proper deliberation and public scrutiny.  This includes member-requested projects.  

Physician Shortages: Better Utilization of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Palliative Medicine Could Provide Relief - Revised

/ Categories: Research, Health Care

A fast-growing and aging U.S. population is posing concerns for physicians’ ability to meet patient demand in the future. Current and future population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a projected growth of 34.8 million people from 2019 to 2034. An estimated 66% of this growth is attributed to people aged 65 or older. As such, physician shortages are especially concerning in the hospice and palliative care sector. As the population ages, the need for a higher volume of care and more specialized expertise will grow.

2023 How Florida Counties Compare

/ Categories: Research

Florida relies heavily on local governments to provide services to its residents. The state’s counties, cities, school districts, and special districts raise and spend more money combined than Florida’s state government. The levels of taxing and spending in different jurisdictions across the state vary considerably. This report will help you see how your county stacks up against the other 66 counties.

To complement our How Florida Compares series, which compares our state to the rest of the nation, this report looks at the myriad local governments within the state. While property taxes get most of the public attention, they only provide about one-fifth of city and county revenue. The tables, charts, and graphs in this report provide comprehensive information on local tax rates, tax collections, other revenue sources, and government expenditures.

Florida TaxWatch provides this report as a reference tool for Florida’s taxpayers, policymakers, and elected officials. 

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