Studies: Florida’s budget high, fiscal health good – News – Panama City News Herald

Florida is No. 1 among the 50 states when it comes to its fiscal health, according to a study out of a free-market think tank at George Mason University. At No. 49 is Illinois, and at No. 50, New Jersey.

TALLAHASSEE — An $82.418 billion budget approved by the Legislature in this spring’s regular session was the largest in state history.

But the Tallahassee-based group Florida TaxWatch, puts the final number on spending at $85.158 billion.

“Every session, the Legislature makes a relatively small amount of appropriations in other bills, including funding for agencies to implement new programs authorized by the legislation,” TaxWatch said in a release Thursday. “This session, the Legislature took this to a new level, passing 23 bills with nearly $2.5 billion in additional appropriations.”

Among those additional appropriations were $1.5 billion in expected funding for the Low Income Pool, which provides money to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor and uninsured patients; $419 million for a controversial education bill; $183 million for state-employee pay raises; and $64 million for a reservoir intended to help clean water in the Everglades.

Scott vetoed $308.8 million in general-revenue spending and $95.66 million from trust funds.

But TaxWatch’s bottom-line number also takes into account spending approved during a June special session. Tourism-marketing money, a new funding pool for economic development and a boost to education tossed another $517.3 million into the state’s spending for the fiscal year that began July 1.

 

Florida the most fiscally healthy state

Florida is No. 1 among the 50 states when it comes to its fiscal health, according to a study out of a free-market think tank at George Mason University.

Measuring short-term and long-term solvency, which includes issues such as state revenue, budget reserves, bond debt and pension liabilities, the Mercatus Center tapped Florida as the top state in its annual survey of the fiscal health of the states.

“Keeping debt levels low, saving cash to pay bills and maintaining solvent budgets reflect a culture of fiscal discipline,” the report said. “The first-place position of Florida in particular demonstrates that this is possible even with a relatively larger population and higher pension costs that arise from an aging population.”

Eileen Norcross and Olivia Gonzalez, the researchers who wrote the…

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