TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Amid plummeting revenues caused by the coronavirus crisis, a leading fiscal watchdog group is presenting state leaders with a set of cost-saving options, many of which could prove controversial.
What You Need To Know
- Florida TaxWatch report envisions long-term challenges stemming from pandemic crisis
- Some proposals would only require executive order to implement
- Postponing $500 million teacher pay raise among proposals
- Read Florida TaxWatch's report HERE
In its new report 'Bringing Florida's Budget Back from Covid-19', Florida TaxWatch is advocating that lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis consider more than two dozen proposals to cut spending and increase revenue. If enacted, the group estimates they could conservatively save the state $6 billion.
Among the proposals are postponement of a planned $500 million teacher pay raise; expanded early release opportunities for non-violent elderly prison inmates; creation of a 401(k)-style retirement plan to replace the state's pension plan for new public-sector employees; funding planned infrastructure projects with bonds instead of cash; and selling advertising space on highway emergency message signs.
While DeSantis and the legislature's Republican leaders say there isn't an immediate fiscal crisis that would require lawmakers to return to Tallahassee for budget balancing before the November elections, the TaxWatch report envisions long-term challenges stemming from the crisis.
"If there is a special session or when the legislature has to come back to specifically deal with the budget, you don't want to set the strategy after the boat has already launched," TaxWatch Executive Vice President Robert Weissert told reporters this week. "So, we're trying to lay out options here now before those kind of activities are undertaken so that we have a plan."
Some of the proposals, however, would only require executive action to implement. When questioned about nixing the teacher pay raise package during a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis indicated the raises would be spared the spending reduction wrath of his line item veto pen.
"But there's going to be a lot more vetoes," he said. "It'll be a lot of red, and it's kind of the veto equivalent of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones."
Read the full report from Florida TaxWatch: