While state lawmakers got down to business this week putting together spending plans for the next fiscal year, state revenue forecasters met Friday and provided legislators with some assurances as to how much money the state has to work with.
Florida’s Revenue Estimating Conference met Friday to analyze and revise general-revenue tax projections for the next year. Conference members estimates the state has more than $3 billion in surplus revenue, as had been expected.
According to economic forecasters, the state is expected to raise $31.1 billion dollars in general revenue taxes next fiscal year. That’s an increase of $181 million from the previous forecast.
Projections for the current fiscal year actually fell below the last estimate in December. But, an anticipated change to the Indian Gaming revenue sharing payment methodology, as well as an increase in sales tax collections as the result of hurricane-related building resulted in the positive adjustment in the general revenue forecast.
The projections provide lawmakers with a definitive figure of how much the Legislature has to work with as the House and Senate negotiates a budget deal. Both chambers passed their own spending plans on Thursday. Each totals more than $87 billion.
“While today’s news is positive, past experience shows us that revenue estimates can fluctuate and circumstances change,” said Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. “It is always best to remain cautious and prudent. For that reason, the budget we passed off the Senate floor yesterday maintains over $3.4 billion in total reserves.
The House passed its spending plan also on Thursday. The House plan puts an extra $100 million into reserves.
“The Florida House budget is a responsible and balanced budget that addresses our State’s critical needs,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran following the adoption of the House spending plan on Thursday. “It cuts property taxes, puts over $3.5 billion into reserves and continues to put Florida on the path to have an education system that is #1 in the nation.”
With four weeks remaining in the regular session, the two chambers still have a long way to go to reach an agreement on a budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. But, they now have a definitive idea of how much revenue they have to work with as they work on putting together a spending plan by March 9–the last day of the regular session.