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.
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.
We cannot forget that the money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida. But what happens when appropriations circumvent the budget process or competitive project selection? Or when they bypass the opportunity for public scrutiny or competitive bidding?
Tourism plays a major role in Florida’s economic strength. More than 142 million tourists are expected to visit Florida in 2023. In 2019, 131 million visitors spent nearly $100 billion, supporting 1.6 million Florida jobs that paid $57 billion in wages. The spending generated $12.7 billion in state and local taxes. Without the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Florida household would have to pay as much as $1,420 in additional taxes just to maintain the current level of government services.
Opinion Editorial by Dominic Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of access to reliable and affordable broadband Internet service in our daily lives, which makes available an almost limitless amount of information; provides a platform for education, health care, and commerce; and facilitates family connections, social communication, and idea sharing. What’s more, public and private agencies alike offer critical services and regular updates for citizens through online programs.