Florida Begins Prepping for Long-Range Financial Outlook

Tallahassee —The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR), the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and the House Appropriations Committee today released a draft of the 2015 Long-Range Financial Outlook. In a memo to Senators, Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) highlighted several components of the outlook that provide a framework for key budget priorities during the coming year.

“The 2015 Outlook demonstrates the feasibility of increasing per student funding to the highest level in state history,” said President Gardiner. “Additionally, balancing the cost of expected growth against our projected surplus and bolstered reserves, as a starting point, I will recommend that the Senate reinforce our commitment to broad-based tax relief for Florida’s families and businesses through a 2016 tax relief package totaling $250 million.

“As our economy expands, Florida’s population is growing and the demand for state government programs and services from education to health care to transportation infrastructure is also increasing,” said President Gardiner. “Growth across all areas of our budget is expected to require an additional $1.6 billion this year. The good news is, after expected growth economic projections, the outlook indicates a surplus of $635.4 million. The bad news is, the vast majority of that surplus, $426.8 million, is nonrecurring. Considering these projections, we will need to be extremely mindful of the impact that our recurring spending decisions will have in future years.”

“Like the rest of the nation, our state is facing higher health care costs,” continued President Gardiner. “In Florida, these increased costs are coupled with the further decline in LIP payments, which will be reduced from $1 billion to $600 million in the coming year. I am encouraged by the work of many Senators who have used the brief interim to pursue policy initiatives seeking to address these health care issues. I remain open to any solution that will address both the cost and coverage components of this critical challenge facing our state and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a balanced budget that addresses our shared priorities.”

The Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) is scheduled to review the 2015 Outlook next Tuesday, September 15, at 3:00 p.m. in 212 Knott.

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Source: The Florida Senate