Florida budget surplus bumped up to $1.2 billion in 2014

By on December 9, 2013
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Gov. Rick Scott will have more than $1 billion in Florida budget surplus to play with next year. 

After a meeting Friday, state fiscal analysts added $324.3 million to expected tax revenues during the 2013-2014 budget year, which ends June 30, as well predicting another addition for the next fiscal year. Sales taxes are Florida’s biggest tax revenue generators.

In an improvement over numbers forecast by economists over the summer, initial tax collections will increase by 3.8 percent, with another 4.9 percent by the middle of 2015, for a total of $27.5 billion.

Since legislators passed a budget for this year, the extra cash will be available for the year starting July.

This means that both Scott and legislators have a state budget surplus in excess of $1 billion even after the costs of enrollment growth for schools, Medicaid and other programs.

With an $845.7 million windfall already projected for next year, and expected spending in areas like education and $1 billion in reserves, the new numbers put the state’s budget surplus at close to $1.2 billion.

State legislative economist Amy Baker said the increased budget is due in part to higher collections of Florida’s tax on insurance premiums, which will produce $76 million in new revenue from increased enrollment in private health care plans due to the Affordable Care Act.

Firm numbers will not be available until sometime next week, after meetings to determine whether programs like schools or health-care will require additional funding.

Scott, beginning his re-election effort, wants to cut taxes and fees $500 million in 2014. The Republican-run Legislature support Scott’s proposals, but has resisted naming precise cuts.

“I am pleased that it appears we will once again see a budget surplus in the upcoming fiscal year,” said House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel, reported in News-Press.com.

“(But) the Florida House will still work to develop a fiscally responsible budget that maximizes every dollar, prioritizes funding in the best interest of all Floridians and also provides for meaningful tax relief for our hardworking families,” McKeel added.

Senate President Don Gaetz is pushing for caution in approaching the budget surplus.

“Our budget planning will be cautious, our reserves will be adequate, and our spending will be conservative,” Gaetz said.

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