A Guide to Florida’s Budget Issues

 

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77% of Florida’s General Revenue Comes from Sales & Use Tax

July 1 marks the beginning of the State of Florida’s fiscal year and the implementation of the state’s $82.3 billion budget, which is Florida’s largest budget to date. Do you know where your state tax dollars come from or how they are spent? Click here and here to find out.

Did You Know:

  • 77 percent of general revenue comes from sales and use tax,
  • Almost $1 in every $4 goes to education spending,
  • 42 percent of funding goes to health and human services,
  • Unlike some other states, Florida has a balanced budget, and
  • Florida’s growth has allowed us to make more investments, even while we have instituted tax cuts over the last five years.

Would future savings in tax dollars make a difference to your household or your business?

 

Get Involved:

To learn more about business climate and competitiveness and the other factors that will drive Florida’s future economy, join us at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum on September 28-30, in Orlando. Click here to reserve your room today.

Florida Chamber’s Targeted Tax Reforms Include Communications Service Tax Cut

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the June 1-20 special legislative session to pass a balanced budget, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is encouraging legislators to also lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms.

“Special session has a lot on the table, including the creation of a state budget and the chance for meaningful healthcare reform,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is optimistic that the Florida Legislature can work through these items and still pass targeted tax reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Floridians and make Florida even more competitive.”

Driving a fair and equitable tax system is key to attracting and retaining businesses in Florida. Limiting burdensome taxes by enacting smart and targeted tax reforms helps place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber supports the following targeted tax reforms:

  • Communications Service Tax (CST) cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday,
  • Research and Development tax cuts,
  • Defense contracting tax credit.

    “The Florida legislature has the important responsibility of crafting the state budget during the special session, but also has a great opportunity to reduce taxes for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. “This opportunity can not only put additional money in the pockets of hard working families, but could mean the difference in job creation and business expansion. Our Florida economy is at its best when the legislature returns tax payer dollars to those who could use it the most.”

Florida Chamber members and partners look forward to working with lawmakers during the special session to help ensure targeted tax reforms can further help attract and retain jobs.

Take Action Now

How will targeted tax reforms help your business grow? Share your story by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber’s Targeted Tax Reforms Will Lower Cost of Living and Cost of Doing Business

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the June 1-20 special legislative session to pass a balanced budget, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is encouraging legislators to also lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms.

“Special session has a lot on the table, including the creation of a state budget and the chance for meaningful healthcare reform,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is optimistic that the Florida Legislature can work through these items and still pass targeted tax reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Floridians and make Florida even more competitive.”

Driving a fair and equitable tax system is key to attracting and retaining businesses in Florida. Limiting burdensome taxes by enacting smart and targeted tax reforms helps place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber supports the following targeted tax reforms:

  • Communications Service Tax (CST) cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday,
  • Research and Development tax cuts,
  • Defense contracting tax credit.

    “The Florida legislature has the important responsibility of crafting the state budget during the special session, but also has a great opportunity to reduce taxes for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. “This opportunity can not only put additional money in the pockets of hard working families, but could mean the difference in job creation and business expansion. Our Florida economy is at its best when the legislature returns tax payer dollars to those who could use it the most.”

Florida Chamber members and partners look forward to working with lawmakers during the special session to help ensure targeted tax reforms can further help attract and retain jobs.

Take Action Now

How will targeted tax reforms help your business grow? Share your story by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida’s Upcoming Special Session Offers Second Chance to Make Florida More Competitive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

 

The Florida Legislature now has until July 1 to reconvene and pass a budget.
The session could include all, none, or some combination of
the items that were in play during the regular session.

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 1, 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announced that, while disappointed the 2015 regular session did not produce the anticipated results, the upcoming special legislative session will offer a second chance to make Florida more competitive.

“A special session, or several sessions, brings the hope that legislators can hit the reset button and pick up the business of making Florida more competitive,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

As media has widely reported, the Florida House and Senate remained $4.2 billion apart on their proposed budgets – primarily due to differing views on approaches to expanding healthcare coverage. As a consequence, lawmakers did not achieve their one constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget during the 60-day regular legislative session.

As a result, lawmakers will have a second chance to pass a budget during a special legislative session – which is constitutionally required before July 1. During that time, the Florida Chamber is hopeful lawmakers will make Florida more competitive by passing a budget that includes:

As Winston Churchill said:  “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“The Florida Chamber encourages our state’s leaders to rally around a common bipartisan cause – and that cause is stronger and sustainable economic growth in order to expand opportunities for all Floridians,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Summary outlines priorities from the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda that passed during the recently completed regular legislative session, including the Florida Chamber-backed education accountability bill (signed into law by Governor Scott), a smart infrastructure bill designating freight and logistics zones, a growth leadership measure and private property rights bill.

Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda was developed based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business. The chamber’s agenda serves as a blueprint of legislative priorities that help secure Florida’s future and lead Florida to a new and sustainable economy.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Dr. Ed Moore Discusses Special Session on Bottom Line

As lawmakers plan to reset, Dr. Ed Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, and Florida historian shares insight on the intricacies of the current legislative debate and special sessions.

A special session means legislators will be called back to handle the $4.2 billion budget difference.

According to Florida’s legislative history, special sessions are not uncommon. According to Dr. Moore, in 2009 the Florida Legislature extended for a week, in 2003 there were five special sessions that ran into the first week of August and in 1987 there were seven special sessions.

“The only thing unique about this week is that every session is unique and every one ends differently,” says Dr. Moore. “Some of them end with a ‘Kumbaya‘ and everybody loves each other and some of them end where the two sergeants go out and drop the hankies to signify sine die and nobody else is there— we’ve seen those as well. Back when Mike Haridopolos was Senate President and Dean Cannon was Speaker, the House went home and left the Senate there to do whatever they wanted to do because it didn’t matter anymore. So you see all kinds of endings here.”

But among issues like a deeply divided budget, there’s an additional player on the scene: the federal government.

“I think the federal government kind of overplayed their hand,” says Dr. Moore. “The House’s main concern throughout all this is that the feds are beginning to have too much influence. Federal money is about one-third of the budget and they [the feds] were going to be more pushy about how they spend that federal money. So what’s the first thing the federal government does? They get very pushy about the federal money and they say, ‘no we want you do this, in order to fund that.’ That kind of played into the argument where they [the House] go, ‘see this is where we are going to be if we don’t get this resolved now.’”

 

Leading Capitol Reporters Gary Fineout and Tia Mitchell Provide Session Update Water, Special Session, Budget, Healthcare and Gambling on The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

Tia Mitchell, State House Bureau Chief with The Florida Times Union, and Gary Fineout, Capitol Press Corp Reporter with the Associated Press, join the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line to give their perspective on Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session. From healthcare issues to the possibility of a special session, Mitchell and Fineout discuss the issues that matter.

 

The Midway Point Assessment:

Gary:

“We haven’t really done very much. There’s a big divide in a lot of places, particularly in the healthcare arena and on the budget. Frankly, as anyone’s whose watched this process knows, the budget is sort of the grease that gets the gears to turn. And as long as there is a big sort of, conundrum, with the budget, it kind of affects the progress of the session. Essentially we are here at the midway point and they’ve only passed, really both sides, have only passed one substantial bill… overall, there’s a lot that has not yet been done.”

On Florida’s Budget:

Tia:

“If you believe what they say, you have to couch that, because again, this is a little bit of posturing, but I do kind of believe what they say, mainly because the House has said for three years straight that they do not want to use federal dollars to expand Medicaid. So you can believe that they really don’t want to do it and that they are dug into that and so far, there has been no compelling reason from the Senate to make them change their mind. But what’s different this year is the Senate says it’s really dug in. Before, the Senate would say ‘hey, we want to expand Medicaid, we did it on our side, they wouldn’t do it on the other side’ and just shrugged it off. This year the Senate is saying ‘no, we think it needs to be done, it’s our highest priority.’ And that’s really different this year.”

On the Possibility of a Special Session:

Gary:

“I see someone is going to have a fairly major retreat, in order for things to be worked out. it’s not that that’s not possible between now and the end of the session but it just doesn’t seem that’s where we’re going. The situation is basically, when you have a top person in the House, which is the budget chairman Richard Corcoran, when you have him get up on the floor and give a passionate speech defending their positions saying that one chamber cannot dictate to anther chamber, that kind of affects the pace and where things will go into the future.”

On Water and Amendment 1:

Tia:

“I think the water debate; the policy is progressing pretty well- they are working on implementing Amendment 1. I see two things happening. I think the environmentalists that pushed Amendment 1 are going to not be happy at the end of the day, because they want much more money spent on purchasing conservation land and the Amendment 1 dollars are going to be spread out for various water issues, various water projects, that don’t all fit under what the Amendment 1 supporters really wanted. The actual projects are going to be a part of the budget debate,  and so we don’t know yet exactly what they are going to use Amendment 1 dollars, the specific projects, but I think there’s going to be a lot more variety than perhaps what the conservation groups would like.

On Healthcare:

Gary:

“I think we can all agree. I think the House as already expressed the thought that they want to do something about access to care. It would not surprise me if the House, as a result of all of this, pushes ahead with several of those issues, especially the scope of practice and nurse practitioners bill. They might want to try to package them all as ‘this is our answer to how to deal with healthcare. And we don’t think that we need to do what you’ve offered in terms of the Medicaid alternative expansion plan that the Senate has crafted, instead we think you should do these other things to improve access.’ And we’ve heard a little bit about that, we’ve heard about the graduate medical education and increasing the number of doctors and things of that nature, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes a part of the mix when all of this is said and done. And as you know, again, Richard Corcoran, the budget chief for the House, has made it abundantly clear that we need to quote ‘challenge the status quo.’ So I can see all of that becoming part of that dynamic and eh dialogue between now and the end of session.”

On Gambling:

Gary:

“I think at this point in time, the main outcome that I could foresee possibly, and I still don’t know if this is guaranteed, is something that just simply allows the status quo to continue as is. I think the Senate has showed that it is potentially interested in that dynamic. In other words passing something that merely says the existing compact kind of stays in place a little while longer.  Is it a year, is it two years, I don’t know the answer to that . But I think you’ve seen the Senate warming up to that. So what does that mean for the House bill? I mean, the House bill still hasn’t passed one committee yet…So I think at this point in time it is kind of hard to imagine that we would have a major gambling bill get passed this year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that something still can’t happen between now and May 1.”

 

Tia:

“I just think that the House’s gambling bill, people just thought it was dead on arrival because there’s just so much in it so there’s so much for people to hate. You’ve got the greyhound industry, doesn’t like decoupling- that’s in the bill. You have Disney and the Restaurant and Lodging Association, don’t want destination resorts- that’s in the bill. You have the Seminole Indians, don’t want the compact to go away- that’s in the bill. So there’s so much opposition to that House proposal because it’s so heavy, it’s just kind of sinking under its own weight.”

 

Help Market Florida’s Business Climate

On Wednesday, March 25, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will take up Florida’s budget. The Florida Chamber is leading the effort to ask the Florida Legislature to invest a minimum of $20 million annually to market Florida’s business climate in other states. The Florida Senate has already committed $5 million in their initial budget offering, but the House has committed $0. Both amounts fall short of the funding needed to successfully market Florida’s business climate.

We can’t afford to have Florida be America’s “best kept secret”— but we need your help to change that!

We must join together to send a message to the legislature to let them know— communicating to other states, business leaders and stakeholders that Florida is the perfect climate to do business is crucial to our economic development efforts.

California, a state that has ranked as one of the worst business climates in the nation for the past 11 years, spends $50 million per year on out-of-state marketing and New York, home to the most expensive city in the nation, is in the middle of a $200 million ad campaign that promotes New York’s business climate as a place to start and grow businesses.

Florida, consistently ranked as one of the top business climates in the nation however, spends $0 market our business climate out of state.

We have already recruited great partners in this effort, including regional chambers of commerce, state and local economic development organizations, businesses and even local governments. But we need you to send an email to legislators today asking them to fully fund the “Market Florida” initiative.

Take Action Now

Send an email to the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees. Don’t wait, as lawmakers will vote on the issue on Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m.

Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line: Sen. Tom Lee Discusses Florida’s Budget, Tax Cuts and More

“We are really fortunate here in Florida that thanks to the [Florida] Chamber of Commerce and a lot of other people who are moving a pro-business agenda forward, our Governor, we are growing revenues here in our state,” said  Senator Tom Lee, Senate Appropriations Chair. “Asset values are up, unemployment is down, things are moving in the right direction- we have an additional billion dollars this year.”

But while Florida is moving in the right direction, our work is far from over.

“There are a lot of opportunities on how we allocate those resources,” said Sen. Lee. “But we have some challenges in the implementation of Amendment 1, and we have teaching hospitals and hospitals that do a lot of unreimbursed care that are being hit by the decision by the CMS on funding out of Washington, so we have to deal with some of those things.”

While the voters spoke on Amendment 1, concerns still remain on the impact of setting a  budget through constitutional mandates, particularly to programs that also used portions of the document stamps tax, such as Affordable Housing and transportation.

“Some of that money was going somewhere else beforehand so we have to find some way to backfill those programs like Affordable Housing and transportation, both of them have a huge multiplier effect on our economy, they create jobs,” explained Sen. Lee. “As we look to solutions to the problems that we are facing with the low income pool going away in our state, trying to find a way to hold transportation and affordable housing harmless is going to be a huge priority.”

At the Florida Chamber, we believe the Governor’s plan for targeted tax reform is good for our economy and is one solution to budgeting challenges- particularly when it comes to communications services tax and the tax on commercial sales leases. In fact, Florida is currently the only state in the nation that charges a communications services tax.

“There are proposals moving through the legislature on a communications services tax and one related to reducing the tax on commercial leases,” said Sen. Lee. “As a landlord in the commercial real estate businesses, that one has particular affinity to me. Both of them are very broad based, both of them will have sweeping impacts across the spectrum of small business and individuals who pay those taxes, whether they are passed down through businesses or directly on their cell phone bills. The question is really going to become- how much money do we have to spend, so how far down that list of priorities that have been set are we going to be able to buy these tax cuts?”

As Florida’s Legislative Session undergoes its third week, Sen. Lee remains hopeful on Florida’s direction.

“Aren’t we fortunate to be in a state where we are talking about cutting taxes in the context of the national government, that’s talking about raising them?”