Revenue, reserves plummet ahead of ‘Red Wedding’ budget
Senate President Bill Galvano and Gov. Ron DeSantis make it clear that schools will reopen in August. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

DESANTIS OPENING DAY (2) (Large)
Bad revenue news, as Governor mulls budget cuts.

A chill continues to descend over Florida’s fiscal picture, with more bad news ahead of what is expected to be a veto-heavy final budget from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The budget, which takes effect July 1, has yet to be signed.

A memo from Senate President Bill Galvano revealed the dismal state of state revenue in the months since March, when coronavirus and associated precautions brought activity to a functional halt.

All told, writes the Bradenton Republican, the state is $1.66 billion under what was estimated activity for March and April, the last two reports available. A $201 million gain previously means the state is $1.46 billion in the hole.

That number occupies nearly half of the state’s nearly $4 billion reserve, a talking point for Florida Republicans since the economic expansion that began under Gov. Rick Scott and came to a dead stop under the current administration.

“While we braced for an even greater loss this month with the full month impact of the Safer at Home order, the May report shows an overall combined revenue loss of $779.6 million from the prior estimate,” Galvano writes, describing a “significant loss” while hoping “the worst impacts are behind us.”

Sales tax impacts could have been worse, and were expected to be.

Delayed collections present an opportunity for rebound, Galvano notes, including corporate income tax and corporate filing fees.

“Because collections were delayed by state order, we can expect a portion of these declines in the April and May reports will be recaptured in the June report or early in the next fiscal year, reducing our year to date collections under estimate to approximately $1.33 billion, well within the level of our state reserves.”

Legislators resisted calls to come back to Tallahassee and consider what was a $93.2 billion budget, one loaded with enhancements in teacher pay and tourism marketing.

However, DeSantis has been unambiguous, saying vetoes will be the story.

“There’s going to be a lot more vetoes. It’ll be a lot of red,” DeSantis warned. “It’s kind of the veto equivalent of the Red Wedding from ‘Game of Thrones.’”

Those without HBO may not follow the reference. But it isn’t going to be pretty, with cuts expected to flirt with the billion-dollar mark.

Rick Scott, who dealt with a recession and a revenue shortfall, cut over $600 million from the budget one year. But DeSantis’ bloodletting could be worse.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    June 29, 2020 at 6:45 am

    As if duffus Desantis gives a rats ass! Duffus Desantis signed a teacher pay raise to justify more for charter schools. Wanna bet the teacher salary raise does not get funded. But duffus Desantis takes money from the surplus for charter schools!

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