By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — State revenue was off $878.1 million in April from an earlier estimate as tourism and hospitality-related industries, along with car sales, were grounded by the coronavirus, according to economists.
A monthly revenue report from the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research reflects economic damage caused by the pandemic and the effects of stay-at-home orders on state tax revenues.
“The presence of coronavirus in Florida presented its most serious threat to the sales tax forecast, especially to those taxes collected from tourists,” the report, released Tuesday, said. “In addition, critical supply chains were already interrupted by the impact to other countries and retail sales displaced as a result of social distancing and crowd-avoidance behaviors.”
The report came on the heels of the state’s unemployment rate jumping from 4.4 percent in March to 12.9 percent in April, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, continued to press Tuesday for patience from his colleagues, including Democrats who have unsuccessfully sought to call lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session on issues such as unemployment compensation and Medicaid expansion.
“As you are aware, sound financial decisions made over the past decade have resulted in significant reserves, and additional steps were taken during the 2020 session to increase those reserves,” Galvano said in a memo on Tuesday. “Our ability to successfully navigate the current fiscal situation will require the same deliberate, professional, fact-based decision making we have employed in Florida for decades. The situation continues to evolve on a daily basis and additional data in the coming weeks will be critical.”
Galvano noted in the memo the state is “near the end of the first month of re-opening,” as Gov. Ron DeSantis has gradually lifted restrictions placed on businesses and other activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Galvano also pointed to $4.6 billion from a federal stimulus law known as the CARES Act, though questions remain how the state might be able to use the money. He also noted state revenue from January, February and March were collectively $202.4 million above earlier estimates, which “will help buffer the loss reflected in this (April) and subsequent reports.”
Galvano and other leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have indicated the state has enough cash to avoid making budget changes before the June 30 end of the current fiscal year. They also have cited a need to wait for additional financial data.
Lawmakers in March passed a $93.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1, but it has not formally gone to DeSantis.
Two weeks ago, DeSantis said he was awaiting action from Washington, D.C. on another stimulus package to address the national economic slowdown. Along with needing to sign the budget before July 1, DeSantis has line-item veto power.
In the state’s monthly revenue report, net revenue for April was earlier projected at $2.984 billion, but came in at $2.106 billion.
A large chunk of the drop was due to the decline in tourism, with sales-tax numbers down $598.2 million, or 24.1 percent from the earlier estimate.
Three additional revenue sources — corporate income taxes, highway safety fees and corporate filing fees — collectively came in $323.1 million below estimates due to state orders allowing delayed payments until June or later.
Not all of the numbers, however, were bad.
The office noted that revenue from the documentary-stamp, intangibles, beverage, tobacco and severance taxes and earnings on investments all exceeded projections.
“Together, these sources generated a total gain of $40.9 million for the month; however, some of these sources are expected to experience losses in the coming months as lagged economic effects begin to appear,” the report said.
Revenue down, Rocky gives out $400,000 in raises! Rocky, I am sure that your handpicked leadership team making over $100,000 each needed a raise, sick. Rocky you are sick. Using tax payers money to give raises to overpaid people that were were placed in jobs by you because they gave you insider information during the election. Sick!
Welp it looks like a lot of rural acreage recently purchased by Galvano’s future employer, contributers, and maybe even some of his political buddies is gonna come up for sale soon.
Because Galvano’s sweet sweet payola dream of getting richer off those proposed toll roads [which Florida never needed] crashed and burned with reduced revenues due to the Covid 19 shut down.
With Galvano’s bargaining chip of big road construction Federal matching dollars off the table will The Governor now force Galvano to stop resisting full implementation of E-Verify?
Come on Gov. stand up and do what is right for Florida by sticking it to RINO Galvano and making him support E-Verify 100%. Galvano’s former power over the Gov. is gone now without the roads project.
Go for it Gov.! Salvage Florida a win out of this crisis.
Good point! Concur!
Typically the “friends” of the political architect [Galvano in this case] become privy to areas where interchanges, rest areas, and other planned locations that FL DOT/FED. GOVT partnership road builders will be purchasing – well in advance of the current land owners and general public even knowing a major road construction is planned for the area.
Of course the “friends” of [Galvano in this case] make an undocumented verbal agreement for a trusted lackey (usually an already known to be unscrupulous attorney) to go form a corporation and approach the current land owners to sell property where the interchanges, rest areas, and toll plazas will be under the rouse of wanting to subdivide for a housing development.
Of course great money is made when the land is sold to the State.
This type of scheme is way too complex to find out about or prosecute and there is seldom any desire to even look into this type of scamey business operation unless it’s stumbled upon and accidentally becomes known to the public and it might prevent an important politician from being reelected if something is not done about it.
I think it is foolish for the state, cities, counties and school boards to inititate any new projects for upgrades. (construction) be wise and hold back on spending including promotions and raises until the economy kicks back in and the revenues increase.
Rocky with the School Board approval gave our $400,000 in raises as families are in line for food. What do you expect from a guy that as a high school principal used his power and authority to date his teachers!
ALSO, This is why States have Emergency Funds set aside. There are accounts for Disasters and there are accounts for Emergencies. What happened to those Accounts?
Maybe it is time (past time) to rethink what to spend Money on, what can wait, what is not really needed and tighten up on how you handle your Bidding system. You waste so much Money allowing the Developers and Contractors dictate what it will cost to build something.
Oh, I don’t know, Ronnie- cut spending and furlough workers like the rest of the world has had to? Take a pay cut yourself? Just a thought….