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2016 Voter Guide - November Edition

10/2016 // This edition of the 2016 Voter Guide details the four amendments on the November 8 ballot. We have provided a notes sheet on page 30 of this Guide, where you can jot down anything you want to remember about the amendments, and take it with you to the polls.

Budget Watch - Projected Shortfall Requires Action

09/2016 // The 2017 Legislature will be facing a very tight budget year. After a string of three straight years with projected budget surpluses ranging from $336 million to $846 million, it is now estimated that during the next legislative session there will be just enough money to fund a continuation budget for FY2017-18. What’s more, significant budget shortfalls loom in subsequent years.

Florida is Still a Donor State

09/2016 // Over the years, Florida TaxWatch has produced several reports examining how Florida fares, relative to other states, in receiving grants and aid from the federal government. Consistent with our past research, this new analysis shows Florida continues to receive far less than its fair share of federal grant dollars.

Discretion on the Bench

09/2016 // This report recommends the implementation of a “Judicial Safety Valve” that would give judges the discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums for low-level offenders, but maintain the rights of victims, offenders, their attorneys, and the state to have input on sentencing decisions at sentencing hearings.

Pay for Performance Contracting

08/2016 // State contracts typically referred to as either performance-based contracting or pay for performance (PFP) are specially formulated so that contracted entities are paid for the outcomes or results of their work, and not just the services that are provided.

Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion

08/2016 // This briefing explores Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion programs, which re-route certain juvenile offenders in ways that hold them accountable while sparing them from an arrest record and lessening the burden on taxpayers.

Budget Watch - Budget Outlook for FY2017-18 Getting Tighter

08/2016 // Just as they did at their last conference in January, Florida’s revenue estimators reduced the state’s General Revenue (GR) projections. The GR Estimating Conference met on August 15, 2016 and reduced expected collections by $131.9 million in the current year (FY2016-17) and by $131.1 million for the next budget year (FY2017-18).

2016 Voter Guide - August

08/2016 // On August 30 and November 8, 2016, Floridians will vote on a total of five proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. This Florida TaxWatch Voter Guide is designed to provide voters with information about each of the amendments to help them cast well-informed votes.

Budget Watch - Growing Federal Debt Puts the Nation at Risk

07/2016 // In dollars, America’s debt is forecast to reach an astonishing $87.9 trillion in 30 years. This is more than $200,000 for each of the 400 million men, women, and children expected to live in the United States in 2046. This Budget Watch looks at the long-term implications of such a debt.

Florida's 2016 Mid-Year Job Growth

07/2016 // This Economic Commentary looks at Florida's mid-year job growth figures, showing that the state has added approximately 244,500 non-farm jobs over the past year.

Locked Up then Locked Out

07/2016 // To decrease recidivism and increase the return on state investment in corrections, offenders need to be able to find jobs and keep them; however, there are several barriers to this goal. This paper addresses some of these barriers and makes policy recommendations.

How Florida Counties Compare

07/2016 // This guide compares the revenue and expenditure profiles of Florida’s 67 counties to give taxpayers an overview of how their local government stacks up with the rest of the state.

Budget Watch - Budget Process Underway for FY2017-18

06/2016 // The FY2017-18 budget process is now underway. The Governor’s office recently provided budget instructions to state agencies to use in formulating their legislative budget requests (LBRs), which are due on October 14. The Governor will then use the LBRs to develop his budget recommendations, which must be provided to the Legislature at least 30 days before the start (March 7) of the 2017 Legislative Session.

The Impact of a $15/hr Minimum Wage

06/2016 // In states across the nation, minimum wage policies continue to dominate political and economic discussions. Recently, two of the nation’s largest states, New York and California, have both passed laws that will gradually raise the minimum wage in those states to $15/hr. This report examines the potential impact of an abrupt raise of Florida's minimum wage to $15/hr.

Lower Costs & Less Crime

05/2016 // Florida can no longer rely on the outdated and inefficient policies of the past, and must begin to consider policies and practices that not only keep Floridians safe, but also address the two primary drivers of growth in the criminal justice system: overincarceration and recidivism. The recommendations detailed in this report, while by no means an exhaustive list of necessary improvements, aim to put Florida on the path to achieve these goals.

Taxpayer Independence Day 2016

04/2016 // Wednesday, April 20 Florida TaxWatch celebrates Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2016: the day Floridians are finally earning money for themselves and not for the tax collector. This symbolic date assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations. In 2015, for the average Florida household, paying its taxes takes 110 out of 365 days, or more than three and a half months.

2016 Session Wrap-Up

04/2016 // This session saw a number of bills that advanced Florida TaxWatch recommendations become law. This publication is a final look at the legislation followed by TaxWatch this Session.

Unemployment Rate Is Not The Whole Story

03/2016 // One key metric that is widely overlooked in the unemployment rate discussion is the labor force participation rate (LFPR), which measures the percentage of the total population aged 16 and above who are currently employed or are unemployed and actively seeking employment. While overlooked, the LFPR is one of the most important metrics to understanding the overall landscape of the job markets.

2016 Budget Turkey Watch Report

03/2016 // Each year, the Budget Turkey Report consists of only a very small percentage of the state budget and this year represented just over 0.1 percent. The $82.3 billion budget passed by the Florida House and Senate on March 11, 2016 contains 143 appropriations items worth $104.9 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys.

2016 How Florida Compares: Taxes

03/2016 // Have you ever wondered how Florida’s taxes stack up against the taxes in other states? If so, this report is for you. The annual Florida TaxWatch How Florida Compares: Taxes report ranks Florida’s state and local taxes against those levied around the nation.

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