As Florida TaxWatch has been detailing in our Budget Watch series,1 the state’s fiscal circumstances have been steadily improving since the initial shock (and resultant revenue loss) at the beginning of the pandemic. Even with historic state spending and tax cuts over the last two budgets, record reserves still exist. Florida’s tax system continues to produce revenue at a breakneck pace, with actual collections beating the estimate in each month over the last two year. Lately, the magnitude of the overage has been staggering. In the last three months of FY2021-22 (April-June), collections exceeded estimates by $2.545 billion (23.9 percent).
New General Revenue Estimates Add Another $5.3 Billion to Amount Available for the Next Budget
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on August 16, 2022, to develop the state’s new forecast for general revenue (GR) collections. After the close of FY2021-22, which wildly exceed revenue expectations, the REC increased the estimates for FY2022-23 and 2023-24 by a total of $5.3 billion.
Florida’s housing market is raging, with growth in property values not seen since the housing bubble. Property appraisers certified the state’s taxable value for 2022 on July 1 and these values are currently being used by local governments and school districts in setting new property tax rates and developing budgets for FY 2022-23. The growth in property values has set the stage for what could be significant tax increases for Florida’s citizens and businesses.
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.
An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process
The $112.1 billion budget passed by the Florida Legislature for FY2022-23 contains 166 appropriations items worth $281.0 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys. These are only a portion of the record-setting more than 1,200 member projects in the new budget worth $2.8 billion. In addition, the Legislature created a new program to allow members to request at least $80 million in additional local projects from the federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund.
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
There are Plenty of Issues to Negotiate
The House and Senate have passed their respective budgets and now must hold budget conference meetings to hammer out the differences. An agreement must be reached on every number and every word in the 400-plus page appropriations bill. Budget negotiations are never easy and this year will be no exception, even with so much money available.
With state coffers already swelling, the General Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met on January 21, 2022, to develop the state’s new forecast for general revenue (GR) collections. This is the revenue estimate that the 2022 Legislature will use for the new FY2022-23 state budget. The REC increased its estimate for GR collections by $3.3 billion in the current year (FY2021-22) and by $704 million in FY 2022-23. This means lawmakers have another $4 billion available to spend. Florida was already in its best fiscal shape in history.
Here is what Florida TaxWatch thinks the Legislature should do.
The 2022 legislative session begins today and, despite the pandemic, Florida is in an enviable fiscal position. The state’s current budget is record in size, as are our budget reserves. Revenue collections are back above pre-pandemic levels, and this Legislature will have even more money available for the next budget cycle, made possible by both strong economic performance and billions in unappropriated federal funds.
With Flush State Coffers, the Governor’s Budget Would Make Significant Investments While Leaving Billions in the Bank
As the Florida TaxWatch Budget Watch series1 has been detailing, the budget outlook for the state is extremely rosy. Governor DeSantis’s 2022-23 budget recommendations reflect the current fiscal environment. It totals $99.7 billion and just like the current budget, the price tag does not fully account for all the spending it contains.