The Revenue Estimating Conference released a rosy new general revenue forecast that will affect ongoing budget negotiations.
Economists last summer predicted a budget shortfall of $5.4 billion. The forecast released Tuesday used new December data, which showed revenue higher than projected totals.
Preliminary current year collections through March increased $1.85 billion, which is 5.9% higher than the year-to-date estimate.
Numbers showed the surplus was being driven by sales tax collections, corporate income taxes, documentary stamp taxes, intangibles taxes, corporate filing fees and earnings on investment.
Sales tax collections are projected to be almost $778 million, which is 4.3% over year-to-date estimates.
Corporate income tax was $153.8 million, not quite 10% over estimates.
The documentary stamp tax earned $18.4 million, more than 14% over estimates.
Corporate filing fees earned $51.5 million over estimate or an increase of 18.8%.
Earnings on investment were $42.3 million over the estimate, which is a more than 19% increase. That number includes $33.8 million from an adjustment supplier, however.
A $6.4 million shortfall came from Article V fees, which were 10% below forecast. Article V fees come from the state’s court system.
The new estimates might make budget negotiations easier as lawmakers formulate spending plans for the coming fiscal year.
The Senate has proposed a $95 billion budget, slightly lower than the $97.1 billion budget proposed by the House. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget came in between those two chambers at $96.6 billion, and has since increased to include about $10 billion from the latest federal coronavirus relief package. The House budget also includes some Coronavirus relief spending.
All three proposals contain budget cuts. Some continue a DeSantis-directed 6% cut to all state agency budgets that is already in effect for the current fiscal year, which continues through June.
Democratic House Leader Rep. Evan Jenne said he expects the new money to factor into budget negotiations, but not quickly.
“I think it’s going to be much more difficult to claim broke when we know that those tax dollars are getting up,” Jenne said. “I think overall what we’re going to see out of this is a ‘let’s see how this goes.’ That’s kind of the M.O. that we see in Tallahassee, just stringing it out as long as we possibly can in order to get things exactly how we want.”
Jenne said he suspects Republicans will bank the money rather than spend it on programming.
“It’s going to be more likely that we see new reasons as to why that money isn’t going there, and is flowing directly into trust funds and into a rainy-day fund, essentially,” Jenne added.
The state’s general revenue forecast of incoming tax dollars is updated three times a year.