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Building Florida's High-Tech Manufacturing Sector

02/2016 // As the global manufacturing industry shifts away from classically portrayed steel and car plants to a modernized approach of high-tech manufacturing; companies, countries, and states find themselves looking for a way to best position themselves to benefit from the future of manufacturing. Florida finds itself in a unique position to capitalize on an existing project that could help the state become a world leader in high-tech manufacturing for years to come.


Meeting Florida's Transportation Investment Needs

02/2016 // Florida continues to grow and is now the nation’s third largest state. After a slowdown during the Great Recession, Florida is on the rise again, and the state will add more than four million new residents by 2030. This report examines the expected needs of the transportation system across the state.


2015 Annual Report

02/2016 // Bridging the Gap Between Taxpayers and Their Government


Predatory Public Records Requests

01/2016 // This report examines abuses of the state's Public Records Act, focusing on predatory practices that take advantage of local governments, and use the power of litigation to profit off of the taxpayers.


2016 Economic Preview

01/2016 // As we kick off 2016, Floridians can look forward to consistent growth in the Florida economy. As shown in the December 2015 Economic Commentary, Florida experienced strong job growth in 2015, adding nearly a quarter of a million jobs. Heading into 2016, Florida’s job market is widely expected to maintain its course as the Florida economy as a whole continues to strengthen. One of the most commonly used metrics to measure a state’s economy is the Real Gross State Product (RGSP), which measures the value of economic output for a given state, adjusted for price changes stemming from inflation or deflation. Florida’s RGSP is expected to grow 3.1 percent in 2016, which is roughly a half a percentage point higher than the United States.


2015 Job Growth Leads to Record-High Employment

12/2015 // For the past five years, Florida TaxWatch has published an annual review that has analyzed the most recent year’s employment figures. As December comes to a close and the New Year is upon us, TaxWatch looks to assess how our job market fared in 2015.


Budget Watch - What is the Cost of Florida's State and Local Government?

12/2015 // Florida’s has historically held the reputation of being a low-tax state, and that is largely true, especially at the state level. But taxes do not tell the whole story of what government costs its citizens. Taxes, especially those reported to the U.S. Census Bureau, exclude a large amount of revenue paid into government co ers by citizens. And that non-tax revenue accounts for a much higher portion of government total revenue in Florida than in the average state. A better measure of the cost of government is “own source revenue,” which Florida TaxWatch has been tracking in its How Florida Compares series. Own source revenue includes all direct revenue except for intergovernmental aid, revenue from government-owned utilities and other enterprises, and social insurance funds. It includes non-tax revenue such as fees, charges for services, special assessments, impact fees and net lottery revenue.


Budget Watch - Governor's FY2016-17 Recommended Budget

12/2015 // Governor Rick Scott’s budget recommendations for FY2016-17 total $79.252 billion—an increase of 1.1 percent ($855.1 million) over current year spending. General Revenue (GR) spending of $29.260 billion would be an increase of 1.4 percent over the current year. The budget proposes to fund 112,823 state employee positions, 864 fewer than currently exist.


Thanksgiving and the Start of Holiday Shopping

11/2015 // Thanksgiving for most people invokes images of family gatherings, turkey, and football. But for retailers, it invokes images of large crowds and dollar signs. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are cash cows for businesses, particularly the retail and food industries. Those days are also important for Florida, as the state will collect a six percent sales and use tax on most of the retail goods purchased by shoppers and some grocery items, but will fail to collect lawfully owed taxes on many items purchased online during Cyber Monday.


Florida's Fiscal Strength Ranked 5th Best Nationally

11/2015 // A recent study by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reviewed the fiscal health of the United States, breaking down each state individually for comparison across several standardized metrics. This Economic Commentary takes a look into some of these measurements, as well as examining other areas that affect Florida’s fiscal standing.


Challenges Facing Florida's Community-Based Child Welfare System

11/2015 // In this study, Florida TaxWatch evaluates the two primary issues contributing to, and subsequently worsened by the increased demand on the system: workforce instability and increasing need for services. The study concludes by recommending that the state examine options that improve service accessibility and availability and enhance workforce stability.


Extending the Manufacturing Machinery & Equipment Sales Tax Exemption

11/2015 // Given the diverse economic benefits provided by manufacturing, it is in the state’s best interest to continue to foster growth in this sector, and Florida lags behind compared to other Southern states. But while most Southern states provide broad tax exemptions for manufacturing equipment, Florida’s most important exemption to encourage capital investment in manufacturing will sunset in April 2017. The analysis in this report demonstrates that extending the exemption could provide a significant economic benefit to the state, and its manufacturing industry.


Budget Watch - 2016-17 Legislative Budget Requests

10/2015 // Florida’s state government agencies have requested $77.835 billion in funding from the Legislature for FY2016-17, which is $1.2 billion (1.6 percent) more than these agencies are expected to spend in the current year. The total request is made up of $29.481 billion in general revenue (GR) and $48.354 billion in trust funds. The GR request is an increase of $854.5 million (3.0 percent). The latest revenue estimates forecast $31.653 billion in GR will be available for FY2016-17 meaning that the agency requests would leave GR reserves of $2 billion.


Stemming Florida's Physician Shortage

10/2015 // Despite advances in delivery methods, new medical schools, and its emergence as a global medical tourism destination, Florida’s healthcare system is facing a significant challenge, as the demand for doctors in the state of Florida is outpacing the current supply. This issue affects not only Florida’s healthcare system, it can also have repercussions on the economy.


Halloween in Florida: Are Taxes on Candy a Trick, or a Treat?

10/2015 // This quick look at taxes on candy and other treats in Florida includes a look at how Florida compares to the rest of the US.


Economy Heating Up in South Florida

09/2015 // Over the past few years Florida’s economy has been on the rise, finally shaking off the economic pain from the great recession. This positive growth has helped stimulate development in South Florida in particular. In a recent survey, more than 80% of small businesses in South Florida reported that they expect to meet or exceed their 2015 revenue targets. And the economic growth is not limited to small businesses; the South Florida Region has also seen a growth in sectors such as construction, financial services, innovation, and more.


Budget Watch - Projected Surplus Not As Large As It Seems

09/2015 // It is estimated that the 2016 Florida Legislature will have a budget surplus for FY2016-17, meaning major budget cuts should not be needed and there should be some money left over for new initiatives. After funding a continuation budget, including expected cost increases in current programs and other historically funded items, it is anticipated that there will be $635.4 million (including an allowance for $1 billion in cash reserves) in General Revenue (GR) left over.


2015 How Florida Compares - Education

09/2015 // This annual publication takes a look at how Florida stacks up to the nation in terms of educational enrollment, outcomes, and investment.


Trophies and Transcripts

08/2015 // More than just boasting and claiming bragging rights, success on the field can actually affect a school’s academic standing off the field. Studies have shown that a school’s successful athletic program can have a positive impact on a university’s exposure, attracting students to the university, as well as increasing application, retention, and graduation rates.


Moving Telehealth Forward: The High Costs of Paying Later

08/2015 // This report, the third in the last two years on the subject from TaxWatch, looks at the next steps for policy changes in Florida, and compares Florida's policies with those of California, Texas, and New York.


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