Florida’s Budget Surplus

Jeb Bush recently published his proposed budget, which includes details on what the state will do with yet another state budget surplus, which is pretty amazing when you consider the state has no state income tax. The high points

* bulking up already existing state reserve funds – saving for a rainy day
* general tax cuts and tax refunds – essentially giving the revenue back to the people of Florida
* education spending – pumping more money into the state elementary school and university system
* environmental spending – cleaning up and protecting the everglades
* paying off long term state debt
* economic development and job growth

One of the “tax breaks” I’m going to try and take advantage of are hurricane reinforcement grants – if I have $10,000.00 worth of work done on my house (hurricane shutters, roof reinforcements, wall tie downs) the state will cut me a check for $5,000.00. This naturally, will increase the value of my home.

There is one low point in my opinion – $715 million is proposed to go to the the state run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state funded insurance company that provides policies to high risk coastal area property owners who get dropped by national insurance firms. Citizens Property Insurance is currently running a one billion dollar deficit, and it looks like government is going to pick up the tab instead of raising premiums. Isolating people from the costs through costly state funded insurance programs is not the way to go.

Overal though, IMHO our state really has it’s shit together. We have a balanced budget amendment, preventing the legislature from spending more than what we take in, and we have a line item veto which Bush has used repeatedly, slashing over $2 billion dollars in proposed state spending over the last eight years. We also have a constitutional amendment that requires the legislature publish cost analysis reports on all newly proposed constitutional spending initiatives. Recently this amendment helped convince the citizens of the state to cancel a costly high speed bullet train project, Florida’s own version of Amtrak.

I wish we didn’t have term limits on the governorship. If we didn’t, I’d vote for Jeb Bush over and over again and again.

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