June 6, 2018

Silent Spending: Florida’s Shadow Budget Needs Greater Scrutiny (FY 2018-19)

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Silent spending, in the form of numerous types of tax expenditures, continues to drain billions of dollars in potential state revenues each year. Total tax expenditures will cost Florida in excess of $20 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19, which is an increase of more than 10 percent over the previous year.  

State tax expenditures are not inherently good or bad. The problem with them is, unlike spending through the budget, which is subject to yearly review and reauthorization, spending through the tax code is not routinely evaluated to ensure it is delivering on objectives that support the state’s families, communities and economy. Once enacted, these expenditures tend to remain in law without an expiration date or regular review.

The elimination of unproductive tax expenditures would simplify the state tax code, make the tax system fairer and eliminate unfair business competition.    

Enacting measures that make it very difficult to address ineffective tax breaks, such as requiring a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of each chamber to increase a state tax or fee, institute a new state tax or fee or eliminate a tax exemption or credit, would impede investment in K-12 education, affordable health care and other public services that benefit all Floridians.

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