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Florida Budget up 20%, Our Town Sarasota News Events

Florida Budget up 20%

Florida Budget up over 20%
Excerpt from Florida Tax Watch

“The 2022 legislative session is over, even if it ran a little long. With a scheduled adjournment on Friday,
March 11, lawmakers had to return the following Monday to vote on a massive $112.1 billion budget.
There were plenty of controversial, hot-button issues. Including abortion, critical race theory, school
textbook review, and sex education and LGBTQ rights. These took up a lot of debate time but this
Legislature still managed to pass a 285 bills, the most since 2013.

But if there is one word that sums up the 2022 session it might be “money.” There was a lot of it and a
lot of it got spent. With state coffers reinforced with billions in federal aid and a rebounding economy
that caused tax collections to consistently beat estimates, lawmakers had more money than they knew
what to do with.

The new budget is a 10.2 percent increase over last year’s, following another 10.2 percent increase in
2021. The $43.7 billion in General Revenue (GR) spending is an increase of nearly 20 percent. The
budget is now $20 billion bigger than it was two years ago, not to mention the spending of billions in
federal funds that are not included in these totals. The budget includes substantial increases in
education, environmental, and health care spending, and state employees are getting a 5.4 percent pay
raise. And of course, legislators got an unprecedented amount of their local projects to take back home.
The is also significant tax relief of $658 million, with most of it going to individual taxpayers, with
relatively little targeted at businesses. And there is still nearly $10 billion in GR reserves leftover
(including two new reserve funds).

Florida TaxWatch and the state’s taxpayers had a number of successes. Many bills and budget issues
supported by our research and recommendations passed. These include extending VISIT Florida,
strengthening sea level rise resiliency, expanding broadband to unserved areas, adding financial literacy
to graduation requirements, tax holidays, expanding telehealth, providing education and employment
incentives for probationers, expanding criminal record expunction for juveniles who complete a
diversion program, extending COVID-19 liability protections for health care providers, affordable
housing, and a proposed constitutional amendment to the November ballot that would create a new
$50,000 homestead exemption for teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, EMTS, and other front-line
workers. Our research and input that raised concerns with legislation, helped to improve them or fail
passage, including changes to the tax audit system and a very costly approach to improving data privacy.
The following Legislative Wrap-Up discusses all these bills and more. It shows what passed and what
did not—both issues supported by Florida TaxWatch research and other important bills we monitored
all session long to keep our members and the public informed on our Legislative Update webpage.”