The Florida Legislature has already been in Tallahassee for two weeks of interim committee meetings in preparation for the 2017 Session, which is scheduled to start on March 7th. They will meet again during the weeks of February 6th, 13th and 20th.
BUDGET FORECAST State economists have slightly revised their estimates of Florida’s general revenues, predicting the State will have an additional $119.3 million through the remainder of the current fiscal year, and an additional $22.6 million for fiscal year 2017-2018. In the context of an over $80 billion total budget, these figures are “relatively minor” according to the economists. The forecast suggests a 4 percent growth through June 2018.
GOVERNOR’S BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS
Governor Rick Scott released his FY 2017-18 budget recommendations on January 31st. His $83.5 billion proposed plan is a record amount, up $1.2 billion over the current fiscal year. Included within his budget is a trust fund sweep totaling $319.5 million, $123.7 million in revenue from the Seminole Compact (although no agreement is currently in place) and $618 million in tax cuts. A total of $482 million in tax relief is directed at reducing the sales tax on commercial leases and to increase the corporate tax exemption. $146 million is directed toward individuals through one time tax holidays and the elimination of sales taxes on college textbooks.
Some of the other budget item recommendations include:
- $85 million for economic incentives
- $23.5 million for Enterprise Florida
- $76 million for VISIT Florida
- $19.5 million for Space Florida
- $10.8 billion to the Department of Transportation
- $178.2 million to the ports
- An $815.2 million increase for K-12 schools (A total of $7,421 per student)
- $6.6 billion for higher education
- $800 million for Amendment 1 to fund water and land conservation
- $225 million for the Everglades
- $178 million to Florida Forever for land acquisition/management
- $111.2 million for beach restoration
- $5 billion for reserves
- Reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates by $900 million
- Provide for $1,500 in employee bonuses based on three performance measures
- Reduction of $48 million for the State Court System
- Reduction of $141 million for Agriculture and Consumer Services
While the Governor makes recommendations, it is the responsibility of the Florida Legislature to develop and pass a budget each year, which is then sent to the Governor for his consideration.