Florida Tax Watch

Kaleigh Wright / WFSU News

Florida TaxWatch announced the winners today for the Prudential Productivity Award. Going the extra mile for taxpayers, the Guardian Ad Litem Program and the Florida State Park System GIS Team won the top cash prizes.  

Florida Tax Watch Building front
Florida Tax Watch

Florida Tax Watch is calling for Governor Rick Scott to veto money for more than 100 projects it calls “budget turkeys” that didn’t go through the legislature’s proper vetting process. But the watchdog group says the process was more transparent this year.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Since 2009, Florida has seen a steady increase in the number of visitors to the Sunshine State, and has had record tourism numbers. A new study by a non-partisan watchdog group shows Florida may now also be on track to meeting a big milestone: attracting 100 million visitors by 2015.

Will Seccombe is the head of Florida’s tourism agency, Visit Florida. He says there’s no question in his mind that the industry is on a steady upswing—as outlined in a report by Florida TaxWatch.

Florida Tax Watch Building front
Florida Tax Watch

The number of employed Floridians is returning to pre-recession levels. The news comes from a Florida TaxWatch mid-year job growth report.

Florida Channel

Governor Rick Scott signed a record budget of about $77 billion into law Monday.

Scott Signs Budget

This year’s budget is 3.5 percent higher than last year's and includes a boost in money for schools, child welfare and projects to battle water pollution. But, Scott says that’s not the only thing.

“It’s a budget that the most important thing is we cut $500 million in taxes. I looked at every line to say are we getting a return for the taxpayers. Is it good for the citizens,” said Scott, speaking to reporters Monday.

Capital Report: 05-23-2014

May 27, 2014

This week, several activist groups were asking a circuit court judge in Tallahassee to toss out the state’s congressional voting maps. They argue the maps amount to gerrymandering—and that political operatives influenced state legislators to draw districts favoring one political group over another. Lynn Hatter reports halfway through the trial—legislative leaders, staffers and operatives are pointing the finger at each other.

Wayne Dumbleton

The government watch dog group, Florida Tax Watch has identified about $120-million slated for spending under next year’s budget that the group says were slipped into the spending plan without a full legislative overview. Its part of Tax Watch’s annual “turkey” report.

When a project gets slipped into the state’s budget in a backroom conversation, rather than in a bill that must go through the full legislative process, Florida Tax Watch Chief Research Officer Robert Weissert, says that makes it a turkey.

Government watchdog group Florida TaxWatch is defending the release of a report in favor of closing the state’s most popular retirement option to newly hired employees.

The report, called "Modernizing the FRS: Switching to a Defined Contribution Plan," recommends the state make the Florida Retirement System as competitive as the private sector's by solely having an investment plan retirement option, eliminating the state's pension plan.

A former Florida Senate President has died, and the fiscal watchdog group that he co-founded is remembering Phil Lewis. Between 1970 and 1980, Lewis served in the Florida Senate. During his last two years, he served as Senate President. Lewis worked to create the state’s water management districts, and he’s also one of the founding members of the non-profit group Florida TaxWatch. The group’s President and CEO Dominic Calabro says Lewis was his mentor, his friend, and was widely respected.

Florida House and Senate conferees have begun trying to work out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the new state budget.  Nearly all the budget-balancing emphasis has been on spending cuts, but one way to boost state revenue is still alive in the senate.  Tom Flanigan reports a Capital City meeting was the site of a pro-and-con debate on that idea.