Florida is still in phase two of re-opening the state amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Classes are resuming at K-12 schools, colleges and universities – some in-person, some virtual and some a combination of the two. Mask mandates have passed some city and county commissions and not others. Businesses and government entities, like the court system and the highway toll collection agencies, report lagging revenues this past quarter. Florida has paid more than $13.4 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits since the economy shut down in mid-March. Governor Ron DeSantis has been holding roundtable discussions around the state regarding COVID-19, some of which have included First Lady Casey DeSantis. In addition to the Re-Open Task Force, he has also established the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities Task Force.
The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference, the group of economists advising the Legislature and the Governor, met on August 14th to review the current impact of COVID-19 on our economy and to project future revenues.
Florida is projected to have $3.4 billion in lost revenues for the current year and a $2 billion shortfall for the next fiscal year. The federal government sent the state $5.8 billion from the CARES Acts. However, these funds may not be used to plug budget shortfalls and must be allocated to pay for COVID-19 programs and expenses. Should the Conference project a deficit, state law requires the Governor to develop a plan; and if the deficit is projected to be greater than 1.5 percent, a special Legislative Session is to be called. The Governor explains that because of his over $1 billion in budget vetoes and current reserves, the state will not be operating in a deficit situation. Florida has $4 billion in reserves.
A study by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting predicts that full economic recovery in Florida is more than a year away. To read that study, go here.