In today’s presentation to the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, the Governor’s office’s Director of Policy and Budget Chris Spenser explained that while the impact of the pandemic on Florida’s general revenue was quick and dramatic, Florida’s recovery was equally quick and how that recovery figured into Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed $96.6 billion budget.
During the Great Recession in 2008-2009, state revenue fell by $7 billion and took over three years to recover. During the pandemic, Florida revenue took a huge hit at the beginning of 2020, roughly $2 billion, but almost immediately started rebounding. This summer, projections were for Florida to have a $5.2 billion shortfall over the next two years. However, by December, those projections were revised. The estimates from the December estimating conference are what was used for DeSantis’ budget, according to Spenser.
Spenser reported, general revenue funds available for fiscal year (FY) 2020-21 increased by $1.1 billion or 3.5 percent from the previous year. General revenue for FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23 is expected to increase by $1.84 billion (5.7 percent) and $1.75 billion (5.1 percent), respectively. This will have revenue exceeding pre-pandemic levels in FY 2022-23.
Several of the democrat senator’s, including Linda Stewart (District 13), on the appropriations committee said the Governor’s Office was painting a “rosier picture” than projections they heard from Amy Baker head of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research in her forecast presented to the Appropriations Committee last month.
Baker predicted revenue to be about $2 billion less in 2021-22 than FY 2020-21 and flat in FY 2022-23.
When asked what the governor’s suggestions were to grow revenue in the upcoming budget year, Spencer replied, “The governor does not contemplate more ways to grow revenue. Instead, he is recommending spending cuts.”
The governor also, according to Spencer, “prohibited” a tuition increase in Florida’s universities, saying that it was important to the governor that Florida families do no face additional burdens during these already stressful times.
The governor’s proposed reductions total $1.1 billion over FYs 2020-21 and 2021-22, mostly in the areas of Medicaid (FMAP Reimbursement Benefit) and KidCare Program reductions, as well as in administrative and operational efficiencies.
More details of Spenser’s presentation are here.