Florida's total revenue collections expected to surpass pre-recession high
When the 2015 Legislature convenes in Tallahassee, it is expected to have nearly $30 billion in General Revenue to create the state budget for FY 2015-16, according to a Budget Watch from Florida TaxWatch, the privately supported think tank examining government spending. However, after this month's GR Estimating Conference, the new General Revenue projection is $141.6 million less than previously thought. The state's estimators attribute the scaled back projections to normal fluctuations, not any underlying weaknesses in the economy. The final estimate for next year's budget won't be announced until March.
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, actual GR collections fell short of projections made last March by $106 million. The revenue collection estimates for the current fiscal year (2014-15) were increased by $49.2 million, but the estimates for the next year (2015-16) were lowered by $84.1 million.
Estimates for the sales tax, the largest source of General Revenue, were increased. However, the estimates for corporate income taxes and real estate taxes (documentary stamp and intangibles taxes) were all revised lower.
"Florida is now in the middle of its largest ever state budget, which is expected to grow even larger next year," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute. "Florida is experiencing steady recovery and growth and our revenues have finally recovered from the recession."
The projected General Revenue collections for this year are expected to exceed the pre-recession high of FY 2005-06, for the first time. GR is expected to continue to grow between 4-5 percent annually through FY2017-18.
"While state revenue continues to grow, the next budget may be a little tighter than expected," said Kurt Wenner, Vice President for Tax Research of Florida TaxWatch. "If legislators want to keep the same level of reserves there are now, there will be only $43 million more GR available than was spent this year, which will likely result in increased competition to fund social programs, provide tax cuts, and increase investment in core government services, such as education and health care."
Florida TaxWatch is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan research institute that over its 34-year history has become widely recognized as the watchdog of citizens' hard-earned tax dollars. Its mission is to provide the citizens of Florida and public officials with high quality, independent research and education on government revenues, expenditures, taxation, public policies and programs and to increase the productivity and accountability of Florida state and local government. Its support comes from homeowners and retirees, small and large businesses, philanthropic foundations, and professional associations. On the web at www.FloridaTaxWatch.org.