BUDGET SURPLUS? The Legislative Budget Commission in mid-September released its Long-Range Financial Outlook projection covering Fiscal Years 2014-15 through 2016-17, and it contained some potential good news for the Legislature: a projected budget surplus.
According to the report, the state is on track for an $845.7 million surplus in FY 14-15, $1.4 billion in FY 15-16 and $3.3 billion in FY 16-17.
The report cautions that this merely is a projection based on current revenue expectations and spending patterns. The report noted several factors that could eliminate the surpluses, including potential hurricane costs, possible lower-than-expected savings from Statewide Medicaid Managed Care and the unforeseen costs associated with the new federal health care program.
At a stop in Tampa earlier in September, Gov. Rick Scott used the forecast to call for additional state tax cuts. Among his proposed cuts: a reduction in the state’s corporate income tax, a reduction in auto registration fees, a lower sales tax on commercial property leases and additional state tax holidays.
COMMON CORE FIGHT. The battle continues to rage over Florida’s planned participation in the Common Core State Standards. State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, touched off the latest round in the fight by introducing a bill that would slow Florida’s participation in the program, which promotes unified education standards across the country, and stop altogether a national assessment test.
Even Super Region legislators with concerns about Common Core seem to think a re-assessment of the program should be more measured.
State Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, described Mayfield’s bill as going “way too far,” and is quoted in The Ledger as saying, “I’m committed to addressing some of the legitimate concerns advocates have raised without turning our backs on standards, accountability and achievement.”
There also was a mid-September public meeting on Common Core in Brevard County that saw school officials defending the programs and parents mixed in their reaction to its scheduled implementation in the 2014-15 school year.
STATE LAND SALE. Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are locked in a battle with environmentalists over the proposed sale of more than 5,000 acres of surplus state park land. The state hopes to raise more than $50 million from the sale, but opponents claim much of the land is critical to the state’s ecosystem.
The state subsequently has dropped about 1,000 acres from the proposed sale but the department’s updated list of land up for sale, dated Sept. 12, indicates nearly 3,000 of the proposed acreage is in Super Region counties.