Florida’s budget is in great shape despite initial projections, according to legislative budget leaders.
Last year, state budget leaders expected Florida to face lingering effects of that summer’s drastic COVID-19 recession for years to come. But the state now looks like it has more than recovered.
Speaking Friday at the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, House budget leader Jay Trumbull credited Florida’s swift reopening and a history of prudent budgeting for getting the state’s finances back on track — and even above pre-pandemic estimates. All three years in the budget projection the Commission approved Friday show significant signs of improvement.
“As of today, the state’s budget is in great shape,” the Panama City Republican said, noting the change from last year.
“Even though this outlook shows positive news, I do want to caution folks that these sizable balances depend on the Legislature continuing to show restraint in creating or expanding recurring programs while also making the necessary one-time investments in our environment and infrastructure,” he said.
While Trumbull credited reopening, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, for the state’s recovery, Democrats have sought to belittle that.
“I’m glad to see that we’re in such a good financial position. I really am thankful for what our President has done and helped us. It sure has helped us shore up our budget,” Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran said, referring to President Joe Biden and the American Rescue Plan.
Estimated collections for the current 2021-22 fiscal year and the 2022-23 fiscal year are above pre-pandemic projections. Meanwhile, projected expenditures are far lower those years, and in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
Current year reserves are substantial, according to House Appropriations Committee Staff Director Eric Pridgeon. The state has $7.3 billion in unallocated general revenue and $2.7 in the Budget Stabilization Fund, used to fill shortfalls.
State budget experts in the Revenue Estimating Conference again increased the 2021-22 revenue forecast by $1.4 billion to $36.3 billion, a 4% increase from prior estimates, and the 2022-23 forecast by $1.2 billion to $36.9, a 3.2% increase.
That’s not including anticipated federal pandemic dollars.
Last year, budget experts expected a $2.7 billion shortfall for the current fiscal year, largely due to a significant hit to tourism. Month by month, Florida has erased that shortfall.
Florida’s changes in gross domestic product, a measure of goods and services exchanged, have nearly matched the nation as a whole, Pridgeon said. But Florida’s hospitality industry took the largest hit within the state.
Largely a result of the pandemic, Medicaid enrollment increased by half a million people to more than 11 million enrollees. Before the pandemic, 4 million Floridians were on Medicaid.
Close to 23% of the state’s population is expected to be enrolled in the coming fiscal year. And that level will decline slowly over the coming years.
“This is the largest enrollment we’ve ever seen in the Medicaid program,” Pridgeon said.
Trumbull and Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel are entering their second year leading the House and Senate appropriations committees, respectively. While the past Session was one for significant cuts, lawmakers now have room to play with the budget.
During the meeting, several state agencies also requested additional funds for the current fiscal year.
Among them, Department of State Secretary Laurel Lee requested $1.7 million in election security grants. The department had previously given county supervisors of elections $1.6 million to address concerns raised in security assessments. But the department lacks the grant funds to send to the remaining counties that completed their assessments.
Department of Education Senior Chancellor Eric Hall requested the Legislature avail $194 million in federal COVID-19 funds and $429 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.
September 3, 2021 at 1:47 pm
In California far less people per 100K residents have died, with DeSanus pulling further “ahead” every day.
These morons are giddy over a $$ windfall virtually every state has experienced.
September 3, 2021 at 2:06 pm
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September 4, 2021 at 7:30 am
Wonderful stewardship, fiscal accountability and responsibility. Great leadership by America’s Governor keeps Florida on right track financially.
DeSantis vetoed funding in height of pandemic which kept Florida balanced.
Florida DeSantis Envy of country, California corrupt, falling apart. California Gov Newsom will be recalled in few weeks. Only idiots quote Cali.
Florida unemployment down to 5.1, 64,000 new jobs thanks to Gov Ron ending federal stay home subsidy.
Biden economy collapsing. Only 235,000 jobs produced, 759,000 estimated. Major disappointment. Runaway inflation, gas prices, lack of economic future under Biden/Harris.
African American unemployment went up nationally from 8 to 8.9%. Biden a disaster in Afghanistan, southern border and in cities.
How you Dummycrats feel now. Incompetent.
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