TO: All Interested Parties
FROM: Cynthia Kelly
Executive Office of Governor Rick Scott
DATE: September 4, 2014
RE: FY 2015-16 Budget Surplus
Last night, the Legislative Budget Commission released a yearly draft report that predicts Florida’s long term budget outlook. I’ve included some observations from this draft report as we continue the process of developing the Governor’s final budget recommendations to the Legislature.
- The total amount of General Revenue funds available for FY 2015-16 exceeds the FY 2014-15 recurring budget by $2.8 billion. This provides ample resources to cut taxes and make strategic investments.
- The ending balance of $336 million for FY 2015-16 is an understated “surplus” since over $1.2 billion in new spending estimates is deducted from FY 2015-16 available revenues in order to arrive at that figure.
- For the fourth year in a row, the draft Long Range Financial Outlook shows that sufficient funds exist to meet all critical and other high priority needs identified for the three years contained in the Outlook.
- The Outlook already assumes an additional $229 million in General Revenue for public schools, which is over half of the new state funding necessary to achieve the Governor’s recommendation for the highest ever per student funding in the FEFP.
- Within the $1.2 billion in new spending, $746 million is included for “Other High Priority Needs.” Much of this funding is based on historical funding averages, therefore, as the budget has increased in recent years, those averages have also increased. While providing a baseline for budget projections, these are predominantly discretionary amounts that will ultimately be determined based on priorities reflected in the Governor’s Budget Recommendations and legislative policy decisions.
- There is no tax increase assumed in the Outlook or in the Governor’s FEFP proposal. The required local effort millage remains constant, although total funds increase due to the latest growth of local property values.
- The Governor has publicly committed to at least $1 billion in additional tax cuts over the next two years, recognizing the available revenues and budget needs in FY 2015-16.
- Many of the Governor’s environmental protection priorities are already included in the Outlook as Florida continues to invest in protecting our environment.
- The Outlook continues the full $27 billion in recurring base budgets for state agencies without any presumed savings from identifying efficiencies, when in fact agencies over the past three years have identified savings and will continue to do so.