Florida got a grim glimpse Tuesday at the pandemic’s impact on state revenue: a staggering loss of $878 million in the month of April.
According to the monthly revenue report by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, the most drastic shortfalls were reported in the categories of sales tax collection, corporate income tax, highway safety fees and corporate filing fees.
In total, sales tax collections were down $598 million at exactly 24% below estimates. The report attributed the shortfall to a decline in tourism, hospitality related industries and auto sales.
Corporate income taxes were also under estimates by $246 million. Additionally, the Highway Safety Fee came in under $20 million and the Corporate Filling Fee came in under nearly $57 million.
“The presence of coronavirus in Florida presented its most serious threat to the sales tax forecast, especially to those taxes collected from tourists,” the monthly revenue report said. “In addition, critical supply chains were already interrupted by the impact to other countries and retail sales displaced as a result of social distancing and crowd-avoidance behaviors.”
In a memorandum, Senate President Bill Galvano said that while the state can expect more losses in May, “sound financial decisions” made in years past have helped the state increase reserve funding.
“Our ability to successfully navigate the current fiscal situation will require the same deliberate, professional, fact-based decision making we have employed in Florida for decades, Galvano said in a statement. “The situation continues to evolve on a daily basis and additional data in the coming weeks will be critical.”
Galvano added that he is awaiting further clarification from the federal government on how states can use the federally appropriated state stabilization fund.
“Recognizing the possibility that ultimately the state may not be able to directly use stabilization funds for this purpose, I have concurrently been working with Appropriations Staff to determine all of the permissible uses of this funding to best position Florida to fully recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Galvano said. “The impacts of the pandemic have been profound, heart wrenching and far reaching, but we cannot allow the current situation to dim the vision of Florida we held just a few months ago.”
Florida thus far has received $4.6 billion in state stabilization funds.