As state lawmakers await updated projections that will help build next year’s state budget, they received a little more good news Tuesday, as monthly revenue collections continue to outpace expectations. The Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research reported February general-revenue collections came in $298.5 million above a forecast for the month. That was the seventh consecutive month that revenues beat a revised — and reduced — forecast issued in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This reflects activity that largely occurred in January, which benefited from a new round of stimulus checks to households, redirected spending from the hard-hit service sector and some consumers’ ability to draw down atypically large savings that built up during the pandemic,” the report said.
The Internal Revenue Service sent out payments from a December stimulus package to eligible taxpayers. The February numbers came after revenue topped the forecast for January by $246.7 million and by $336.7 million in December.
The tourism and hospitality industry remained the biggest lag in revenue numbers.
“Even though a significant part of the loss arises from a reduction in the number of out-of-state tourists, this category also includes sales to Florida residents at restaurants, local attractions and other leisure-based activities that have likewise been negatively affected by the pandemic,” the economists wrote in the report.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee will take up a $97.08 billion spending proposal for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, will consider a $95 billion spending plan.
But those proposals are only initial steps as legislative leaders prepare to negotiate a final budget over the next month. The state Revenue Estimating Conference will meet April 6 to update projections of general revenue — a process that is expected to provide an infusion of additional cash that can be used for the budget. General revenue collections have been up about $1.8 billion from the revised August forecast.