A new LeRoy Collins Institute report highlights strategic
approaches to help guide better state policy and budget decisions
The LeRoy Collins Institute today released its latest research report, “Better Choices: Evidence-Based Policymaking Can Improve Florida’s Outcomes,” examining Florida’s current policy and budgeting decisions and the success of evidence-based policymaking in other states. With projections pointing to a $2 billion budget shortfall and legislative leaders foreshadowing significant budget cuts, Better Choices aims to introduce strategies and techniques to help policymakers target limited resources toward programs that are proven to work and eliminate those that deliver poor results.
“With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to strain the state’s resources and economy, it is vitally important for Florida to take advantage of these recommended policymaking techniques in order to spend existing resources more strategically,” said Lester Abberger, Board Chair of the LeRoy Collins Institute. “Since Florida is unlikely to raise new revenues to address the state’s economic challenges, the best path forward is to spend what we do have more effectively by implementing evidence-based policymaking techniques.”
As discussed in earlier Collins Institute “Tougher Choices” reports, Florida faces daunting challenges. As a low tax/low service state, Florida trails many other states in key social and economic indicators, including the health and education status of its residents, the rate of child poverty, unemployment, and environmental threats. Despite improvements, the state’s tax revenues continue to grow more slowly than the overall economy, and Florida faces a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Relying on Federal funds is not a long term-solution.
As used in a growing number of states, evidence-based policymaking techniques utilize the best research and data on program results to guide policy and budget decisions. Key next steps to implementing more evidence-based policymaking in Florida include compiling a comprehensive inventory of current state programs; classifying all programs by their effectiveness; giving funding preference to programs that achieve high returns on investment dollars; creating monitoring standards to assure that programs are implemented with fidelity; and establishing a central database of agency performance measures and issuing agency report cards.
“Our hope is that the techniques outlined in this report will encourage Florida’s leaders to spend the state’s already limited resources on more effective programs to better serve the state’s residents,“ said Carol S. Weissert, Ph.D., Director of the LeRoy Collins Institute. “Strategically allocating Florida’s existing resources will generate positive outcomes and is a step in the right direction to ensure that agency programs are being implemented as intended and producing positive results.”
The report was authored by Dr. Gary VanLandingham, Professor, MPA Director, and Reubin O’D. Askew Senior Practitioner in Residence at FSU’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy. It will be distributed to state policymakers and major Florida publications to encourage leaders to adopt these techniques and establish policies that give priority to funding evidence-based programs.
Established in 1988, the LeRoy Collins Institute is a nonpartisan, statewide policy organization housed in the Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. The institute studies and promotes creative solutions to key private and public policy issues facing the people of Florida and the nation.