TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The latest General Revenue forecast paints a slightly less gloomy picture than previous projections, as highlighted by the December edition of the Florida TaxWatch Budget Watch report. State economists met earlier this week and increased its revenue forecast by $119.3 million in the current year (FY2016-17) and by $22.6 million for the next budget year (FY2017-18). This $141.9 million increase recovers a little of the $655 million in GR reductions made in the last two conferences.
This will still be a tough budget year and looming future shortfalls persist. State estimators have already adopted weaker Florida and national economic forecasts and there is a concern that current revenue levels may not hold. The TaxWatch report notes combating Zika and recovering from Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew have already required $100 million in emergency spending and additional funds may be required to address those issues. There are also concerns of less sales tax revenue collected over the potential loss of tourism as a result of Zika.
Elected officials are also proposing large spending items, with Governor Rick Scott calling for $85 million in economic development incentives while also recommending some new tax relief. Senate President Joe Negron wants to increase university funding by $1 billion over the next two years and also wants to move forward on his Everglades land-buying proposal. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has pledged not to increase school property taxes, meaning more state dollars will be needed to maintain or enhance per-student funding.
“Money will be tight this year and lawmakers who are concerned about a tough budget year should find ways to cut costs and save money,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “The Government Efficiency Task Force report highlights 29 recommendations that would result in upwards of $2 billion in savings and cost avoidance, making a tough budget year little easier to navigate.”
The full Budget Watch report can be read here.