Steady growth could increase Fla. budget surplus

Published On: Mar 12 2014 02:38:12 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2014 09:05:50 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida legislators, already set to cut as much as $500 million from existing taxes and fees, could get a bit more good news on Wednesday.

State economists are drawing up new estimates on how much money the state is expected to collect in taxes. Preliminary forecasts show a steady rate of growth as the economy becomes more stable.

Those initial forecasts show that economists are predicting state tax collections to grow between 4 percent and 6 percent between this year and 2017. Economists were expected to release a final number later in the day.

"There's a lot of stability in what we are doing right now," said Amy Baker, the head of the state's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

If the forecasts hold, the Republican-controlled Legislature will have an even larger budget surplus heading into the 2014 election year. Legislators will use the forecast adopted this week to draw up a new state budget that will cover state spending from July 2014 to June 2015.

GOP leaders had already said they wanted to use the more than $1 billion budget surplus to pay for tax and fee cuts, including rolling back auto registration fees. That surplus could grow by another $100 million based on the latest forecast.

The state's main tax is the 6-percent sales tax. Collections of the tax dropped at the height of the Great Recession but have been recovering since then.

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