TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State economists predict lawmakers will have $657.5 million more than previously anticipated for the next state budget. The latest General Revenue (GR) forecast shows the state's GR fund is expected to reach $31.6 billion for the 2016-17 budget year. The growing available funds mean recurring revenues exceed current recurring expenses by $1.6 billion.
"Florida's economy is returning to its pre-recession days, and the available funds for the state budget reflect that strength," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Tourism is very strong and more Floridians are able to find jobs and they are spending money throughout the state."
The increased budget estimates are due to Florida's steady, if not spectacular, economic recovery. The state's sales tax is the largest source of General Revenue funds, and is projected to bring in $21.957 billion this year, totaling more than 77 percent of total General Revenue.
"Even with more cash to spend, lawmakers can't count on a big budget surplus yet," said Kurt Wenner, Vice President of Research for Florida TaxWatch. "There will be increased costs next year, including an additional 26,000 public school students and at least $500 million in new Medicaid spending. There will still be intense competition for any extra dollars."
In the fall, state economists will create the Long Range Financial Outlook to provide a clearer picture of the projected revenues versus projected expenses. Revenue projections will also be adjusted again before the Legislature begins to draft the 2016-17 budget in January.
The full analysis is available here.