Jimmy Patronis renews calls for budget estimates in COVID-19 fight

Patronis repeated calls for a budget review on the coronavirus.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asked state budget experts for guidance on the state’s economic readiness as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In an email to leaders of the Revenue Estimating Conference, Patronis asked about the impact COVID-19 is having on sales tax and tourism revenue, the approaching hurricane season and the $2.2 trillion federal COVID-19 stimulus bill being implemented this week.

A state expenditure must meet three criteria outlined by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to be eligible for federal compensation. The state must take on the cost because of COVID-19, the cost must not have been accounted for in the previous budget and the expense must be made from March 1 to December 30 this year.

Given the limitations, Patronis asked how much of that funding the Revenue Estimating Conference expects the state to receive and have available for use. The state’s current budget period ends in June before the budget passed by the Legislature last month kicks in on July 1.

Colorado State University has predicted an above average hurricane season, which begins June 1. The CFO asked how equipped the state’s reserves are to handle both crises.

And Patronis doubled down on his inquiries into a future budget directly addressing the novel coronavirus. With a stay-at-home order now underway, the conference may not be able to make another accurate forecast until the order expires.

House Speaker José Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano said the budget experts could meet more frequently to assess the state budget. But the CFO has pressed them to meet sooner rather than later.

“I am confident that the more information we collect now, however imperfect, will help us better plan for the future and possibly also guide more tailored requests for further federal assistance where that is also needed.

The Department of Financial Services, overseen by the CFO, is responsible for administering the state’s pocketbook.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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