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Budget Watch - Outlook Assumes Legislature Will Sweep Trust Funds

10/2018 // Florida’s state forecasters estimate that the 2019 Legislature will have a $223.4 million budget surplus when it puts together the state’s new spending plan for FY 2019-20. However, this assumes the Legislature will transfer nearly $400 million from trust funds—money earmarked by law for specific uses—into the General Revenue (GR) Fund.

2018 Voter Guide

10/2018 // On November 6, 2018, Floridians will vote on 12 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.

Vote NO on Amendment 1

09/2018 // Floridians will be voting on as many as 13 state constitutional amendments on November 6, 2018. The first on the list, Amendment 1 (A1), would create a new $25,000 homestead exemption from property taxes. Florida TaxWatch research shows that voters should vote NO on this amendment.

Budget Watch - GR Estimates Down $32.6 Million

08/2018 // Florida’s General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on August 16 and forecast that the state would collect $13.1 million less than expected in FY2018-19 and $19.5 million less in FY2019-20. This reduces the estimated GR that the Legislature will have for the next state budget by $32.6 million, a change of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

Budget Watch - Actual GR Collections in 2017-18 Exceed Estimates

08/2018 // Actual net GR collections for the fiscal year that that just ended exceeded the last estimate (February 2018, adjusted for legislative changes) by $205.2 million (0.66 percent). This will be added to the unobligated FY2018-19 GR (cash reserve) balance of $1.026 billion to be carried forward to the next budget year (FY2019-20). These numbers, along with the current cycle of the state’s Estimating Conferences, can begin to define the fiscal outlook for the next state budget that will be developed by the 2019 Legislature.

Budget Watch - The Whole Story of State Spending

07/2018 // The 2018 Legislature passed a $88.727 billion state budget—the General Appropriations Act (GAA)—which recently took effect on July 1. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of what was spent by lawmakers last session. While the GAA price tag gets all the publicity, other appropriations can go largely unnoticed.

2018 Education Leadership Roundtable Summary Report

07/2018 // In April 2018, TaxWatch convened a 90-minute education roundtable in Orlando to discuss ways to improve the overall quality of pre-K–12 education by improving the leadership qualities of our public school principals. Joining the nine current PLA-winning principals were three former PLA-winning principals, the Chair of the State Board of Education, one current and one former member of the Florida House of Representatives, and a number of business and community leaders from across the state.

About Remote Sales Tax Collection

06/2018 // The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling that paves the way for a successful resolution to an issue Florida TaxWatch has fought for more than 15 years.

2018 How Florida Compares: Taxes

06/2018 // The 2018 Edition of this annual pocket guide gives taxpayers and elected officials great insight as to how Florida's taxes compare to other states and the national average across a wide variety of metrics.

Workforce Development in Florida: A Literature Review

05/2018 // Designing effective workforce development policy requires drawing on the wealth of knowledge provided by academic and scientific research; the purpose of this paper is to stitch the relevant literature together so as to develop a comprehensive approach to workforce development.

TaxWatch Analysis of Amendment 2

05/2018 // In November 2018, Florida voters have a chance avoid a major property tax increase on owners of commercial or rental property, vacation or second homes, unimproved real estate, or any other non- homestead property. This tax increase will happen if the current 10 percent cap on non-homestead property assessments—scheduled to be repealed—is not reauthorized by the voters.

The Census Does More than Count People

05/2018 // The data from the 2020 Census will be used to allocate this funding for the next 10 years! This makes the upcoming 2020 Census vital to the quality of life in your community and all of Florida.

2018 Taxpayer Independence Day

04/2018 // Saturday, April 14, Florida TaxWatch joins the taxpayers in our state in celebrating Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2018. On that day, Floridians are finally earning money for themselves–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.

2018 Budget Turkey Watch

04/2018 // The $88.7 billion budget passed by the Florida House and Senate for FY2018-19 contains 87 appropriations items qualifying as Budget Turkeys worth $147.5 million. Since projects were not added to the budget during conference this year, most of these were flagged because they circumvented established selection processes. This includes 56 local transportation projects worth nearly $120 million. These member projects, for which there is no formal evaluation and selection process, bypass the transportation planning process, potentially diverting funds from projects that are in the DOT work program.

2018 Legislative Wrap Up

03/2018 // Find out all about what happened this Session with the TaxWatch Legislative Wrap Up.

Assessing CRC Proposal 88

03/2018 // The Constitution Revision Commission is considering a proposal (P88) that, if approved by the voters, would create a new section in the Constitution to establish a “bill of rights” that expands litigation for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida. Florida TaxWatch has undertaken an analysis of P88 to guide Commission members in their deliberations regarding P88 and its committee substitute (CS/P88), and to educate the voters should the Commission recommend CS/P88 be placed on the ballot for the November 2018 General Election.

Comparing the 2018 House and Senate Tax Packages

03/2018 // The House unveiled its 2018 tax cut package (HB 7087) almost a month ago, while the Senate’s did not appear until week 8 of the session when it was amended onto SB 620 in the Appropriations Committee. The bills have a lot of similarities, but there are big differences that will have to be negotiated before a final tax cut package is approved.

Increasing the Independence and Effectiveness of the Florida Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate

02/2018 // The 2018 Legislature has an opportunity to strengthen and increase the independence of an important taxpayer safeguard—the Florida Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate. Senate Bill 826 and House Bill 1345 would make the needed changes to the law.

2018 House Proposed Tax Package

02/2018 // On February 14, 2018, the House Ways & Means Committee unveiled and passed its proposed tax cut package. The bill contains numerous tax relief provisions, covering sales taxes, property taxes, corporate income taxes, documentary stamp taxes and traffic fines. Several temporary exemptions to provide tax relief for agriculture and homeowners impacted by hurricanes are included.

Budget Watch - More Revenue for the Next Budget

02/2018 // As the Florida Legislature prepares to go into conference budget negotiations to finalize the FY2018-19 budget, state estimators gave lawmakers a bit of good news. Florida’s General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on February 9 and forecast that the state would collect an additional $461.8 million in FY2017-18 and FY2018-19.

Budget Watch - Proposed Budgets Close in Amount, but Big Differences Remain

02/2018 // The budget’s bottom lines are relatively close, with the Senate’s $87.3 billion plan coming in at only $100 million more than the House. While the totals are similar, some big differences exist, particularly in education and environmental funding.

Derailing Brightline – The Cost of Taxpayer-Funded Lawsuits

01/2018 // When completed, the new Brightline train will pass through the Treasure Coast region of the state without any planned stops. This has prompted local governments in the Treasure Coast region to pursue legislative and legal remedies in an attempt to derail Brightline. This report looks at these actions, and whether they are in the taxpayers best interest.

2017 Annual Report

01/2018 // See the 2017 Florida TaxWatch Annual Report

A Second Look at Second-Stage Companies in FL

12/2017 // Launched in 2009 to help second-stage companies grow and create new jobs, GrowFL uses principles of Economic Gardening® to help growing companies throughout Florida overcome obstacles to mature and prosper.

Budget Watch - Governor's FY2018-19 Recommended Budget

12/2017 // Governor Rick Scott recently released his eighth and final budget recommendation. This report details the proposal by budget area.

Tax Cuts Over Time - Web Tool

11/2017 // Florida TaxWatch has compiled a comprehensive list of state and local tax and fees changes—increases and decreases--enacted by the Florida Legislature since 2010. It includes every new or eliminated tax or fee, changes to tax rates or fee levels, exemptions, credits, expanded bases and more.

Requiring a Supermajority to Raise Taxes or Fees Can Protect Taxpayers

10/2017 // Having led in the enactment of Florida’s current consitutional state revenue limitation, Florida TaxWatch has been recommending a simpler and higher standard to pass tax increases since 1995.

Budget Watch - Budget Surplus Threatened by Irma Impacts

09/2017 // The new Outlook forecasts that after funding a continuation budget, there will be $52.0 million in General Revenue (GR) left over, until the financial impacts of Hurricane Irma are considered.

Budget Watch - More GR Available for Next Budget Thanks to Seminole Gaming Settlement

08/2017 // Estimating Conference says that revenue from the gaming agreement that was reached in July between the state and the Seminole Tribe will more than offset a projected revenue loss for the state.

2017-18 Taxpayers Budget Pocket Guide

08/2017 // Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present taxpayers with a guide to the FY2017-18 state budget, which went into effect July 1, 2017. After deducting the Governor’s vetoes, the net result is FY2017-18 appropriations totaling $85.158 billion, a $2.9 billion (3.5%) increase over FY2016-17.

Budget Watch - FY2017-18 GAA Only Tells Part of Florida's Budget Story

07/2017 // The 2017 Florida Legislature passed a $82.418 billion General Appropriations Act (GAA), already the largest in the state’s history. But this is not all the money appropriated this year.

High Failure Rates Among Nursing Students Indicated Need for a Cure

06/2017 // Previous legislation to expand nursing programs and alleviate Florida's nursing shortage has had unintended consequences, finds the latest Economic Commentary.

Examining the US DOE's Proposed Loan Repayment Rule

06/2017 // The Rule, which will take effect on July 1, 2017, permits the Department to discharge student loans, thereby relieving the student of any obligation to repay the loan. This report looks at the possible impact on Florida taxpayers.

2017 Session Wrap-Up

05/2017 // The 2017 Legislature passed only 249 bills, the second lowest number in at least the last 15 years. This wrap-up details the issues TaxWatch followed this year.

2017 Final Tax Package Analysis

05/2017 // This Session Spotlight is a look at the provisions in HB 7109, comparing the Senate amendment to the original House bill, and an examination of other bills and proposed constitutional amend- ments dealing with property taxes that have passed or are expected to pass and that could also reduce the taxes Floridians pay.

Budget Watch - Proposed Budgets for FY2017-18 Far Apart

04/2017 // As we enter the penultimate week of the 2017 Legislative Session, the next state budget is still very much up in the air. The House and Senate spending plans are effectively $4 billion apart.

The Outlook for Tax Relief from the 2017 Legislature

04/2017 // This report is a look at the provisions in HB 7109, along with the Senate bills that contain one of these provisions and that have cleared at least one committee. Following this analysis is an examination of several bills and proposed constitutional amendments dealing with property taxes that could also impact the taxes Floridians pay.

The Cost of Inaction on The Everglades

04/2017 // Currently more than eight million South Florida residents, almost one-third of the state’s population, directly rely on the Everglades system for freshwater supply. This report examines the cost of the status quo.

2017 Taxpayer Independence Day

04/2017 // On April 17th, Floridians will celebrate Taxpayer Independence Day 2017, the first day of the year where taxpayers are no longer working to pay off their tax bill but are working for themselves. This symbolic date, calculated by Florida TaxWatch, assumes that every dollar earned from the start of 2017 went to pay taxes at all levels of government.

Now is the Time to Eliminate the Business Rent Tax

04/2017 // It would be difficult to find a more clear and widespread competitive disadvantage faced by many Florida businesses than the Business Rent Tax (BRT). This report looks at how to provide relief.

2017 How Florida Compares: Taxes

04/2017 // This annual report details how Florida stacks up against the rest of the nation in terms of taxes and fees.

The Effect of Repealing the Insurance Premium Tax

03/2017 // The 2017 Legislature is considering SB 378, a bill that would eliminate the insurance premium tax (IPT) credit. This report examines the issues involved with repealing the salary credit and concludes it should be maintained.

The Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health & Property Values

03/2017 // Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. This report looks at the effect of food deserts on Floridians' health and life expectancy.

Budget Watch - Final GR Estimates Set Stage for Tough Budget

03/2017 // The General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met recently to determine how much money will be available to the 2017 Legislature for the new state budget.

The Show May Not Go On: An analysis of the cost of severe cuts to Florida's tourism marketing

03/2017 // Florida tourism is an absolutely critical industry to the state, employing millions of people and contributing millions of dollars to state coffers. Despite its importance to the Sunshine State, tourism is in the crosshairs of the Florida House, a costly decision according to this report.

The Effects of a Border-Adjusted Tax on Florida's Property Insurance Market

03/2017 // This report analyzes the effects of applying a border-adjusted tax to reinsurance transactions, and estimates the impact of such a tax on Florida’s policyholders, the property insurance market, taxpayers, and the economy.

Finding the True Cost of Public Education

03/2017 // Per-student spending is an easy-to-use measure by which taxpayers can evaluate public school spending and efficiency. This report finds a more accurate number for taxpayers to use.

Expanding Florida's High-Tech Manufacturing Sector

03/2017 // This Briefing revises high-tech manufacturing, one sector that could benefit from state investment and has been touted in the past by government officials as a way to expand Florida's economic diversity.

Teen Trendsetters: Making a Difference for Florida's Youth

03/2017 // The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s Teen Trendsetters program is one great example of a high-quality mentor initiative. This Florida TaxWatch fiscal and economic analysis quantifies the value of the increases in reading scores and positive social impacts of the program.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Invade Taxpayers' Wallets, Too

03/2017 // This Economic Commentary looks at the potential impact on taxpayers from the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Budget Watch - Analyzing the Governor's FY2018 Budget Recommendations

02/2017 // Governor Rick Scott recently released his $83.474 billion proposed budget, which will be considered by the Legislature as it crafts the state’s new spending plan.

Supporting Sunshine State Shoppers

02/2017 // Florida residents come out in droves to take advantage of sales tax holidays, the subject of this report. These ever-popular tax breaks allow Florida shoppers to take advantage of tax-free purchases on certain items.

2016 Jobs in Florida: Year in Review

02/2017 // With an addition of 257,000 jobs in 2016, Florida continues to rise from the Great Recession. Over the past year, nearly all of Florida's major industries have seen employment gains, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.8.

Corrections in Context

01/2017 // To identify areas in need of improvement, this report is a longitudinal analysis of the state’s sentencing, incarceration, prisoner, and correctional budget histories.

2016 Annual Report

01/2017 // The 2016 Annual Report - Bridging the Gap Between Taxpayers and their Government

2017 Economic Preview

12/2016 // As we close the door on a strong 2016 for Florida’s economy, it is time to look at what could lie ahead for the state in 2017.

Budget Watch - Revenue Estimates Increased Slightly, Shortfall Looms

12/2016 // Lawmakers received a small measure of positive fiscal news from state economists this week. The General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference met on December 12, 2016 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).

Budget Watch - The Zika Virus Will Place Additional Strain on the Next State Budget

11/2016 // In addition to the serious public health risk for Floridians, the Zika virus is also creating risk for the already tight state budget outlook for next year.

Bees, Please Don't Buzz Off

10/2016 // Honey bees enable the production of more than 90 commercially grown crops here in the United States. Around the world, more than one-third of food production relies on pollination, which is important to understand because, over the past 60 years, the number of honey bee colonies in the United States has decreased steadily.

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.

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