Florida TaxWatch released on Thursday a list of taxpayer priorities for the 2022 legislative session that reflects a range of issues including the addressing of adverse tax policies, investment into programs and infrastructure, and focusing on critical health services and employment needs.
Florida has received tens of billions of federal stimulus dollars from the six COVID-19 stimulus allocations since the beginning of the pandemic, and additional federal dollars are anticipated to arrive in the near future. Florida TaxWatch urges legislative leaders to maintain transparency and accountability throughout this year’s appropriations process, including restraint in funding member projects.
The nonpartisan, independent taxpayer research institute emphasizes that lawmakers must also be cautious not to overcommit non-recurring revenue to recurring expenses and strive to keep a higher-than-average level of reserves, while still continuing to make needed investments.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida is in an enviable fiscal condition. The state’s current budget is record in size, as are our budget reserves. Revenue collections are back above pre-pandemic levels, and this Legislature will have even more revenue available for the next budget, including billions of dollars in unappropriated federal funds, said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “This is an unexpected success that Florida TaxWatch attributes to the significant influx of federal stimulus dollars and steps taken by Governor DeSantis, Senate President Simpson, and House Speaker Sprowls, demonstrating fiscal prudence and focusing on the economy while also making strategic investments to address critical issues with statewide impacts, such as nursing shortages.”
The Florida Legislature is positioned to pass along a significant corporate tax increase, approximately $1 billion in 2022. A prioritized goal of Florida TaxWatch is to encourage legislators to act immediately to prevent the scheduled tax increase, which would raise by 5.5 percent.
Florida TaxWatch will also monitor how state lawmakers address the issues raised last session related to data privacy concerns. Florida TaxWatch notes that costs associated with the consumer data privacy legislation originally proposed in 2021 could run between $6.2 billion and $21 billion in the first year alone, with an ongoing annual compliance cost of at least $4.6 billion.
The tax watchdog plans to urge the Legislature to consider the impact of the implementation and maintenance burdens imposed on businesses by the bill and, if passed, provide covered businesses ample time to comply with new regulations.
“To preserve this momentum in 2022, Florida TaxWatch is hopeful the Legislature will concentrate on specific measures that our research has proven will benefit communities, businesses, and the state economy overall,” said Calabro. “We are proud to present these taxpayer priorities today and look forward to providing additional information and evidence-based recommendations, as appropriate, in the days ahead.”
Given the importance of healthcare accessibility in recent times, Florida must continue working to close the digital divide and especially minimize the impact on Florida’s rural communities, says Florida TaxWatch.
Lawmakers will be recommended to focus on increasing broadband deployment in unserved and underserved communities, providing support for expanded internet access in order to provide better environments for telehealth consultations and visitations.
Florida TaxWatch is comprised of homeowners, small businesses, large corporations, philanthropic foundations, professionals, associations, labor organizations, and retirees while being led by officers and a Board of Trustees, claiming to have saved taxpayers more than $6.2 billion, which is approximately $1,067 for every Florida family.