Gov. Rick Scott has received positive headlines for the better part of two weeks as he unveils bits and pieces of his proposed 2014-2015 budget. He is focusing on the good news: roughly a dozen tax breaks and spending increases.
He wants to cut vehicle tag fees and increase workforce training. He hopes to give families a tax break on back-to-school shopping, businesses a break on rent taxes and worried homeowners a break when preparing for hurricane season. Scott's proposal will also include money to restore the Everglades and Florida's springs.
But there is a catch.
The Times/Herald compiled all of Scott's new spending in the chart (click on the pic for a larger image), using press releases from his office and media reports. We included only the new spending that would require additional budget dollars, except for education because that wasn't specified.
In total, Scott has proposed about $1.4 billion in new spending. You may recall that state analysts have predicted an $850 million budget surplus.
That means if the governor wants to boost spending in the way he has proposed, he will have to cut around $500 million in other areas of the state budget.
Scott has already announced that he wants agencies to reduce their budgets by $100 million. Our analysis shows that the number will be significantly higher, unless the governor is looking outside state coffers to fund his new initiatives.
In previous years, the governor suggested eliminating job positions at state agencies and reducing Medicaid rates to balance the books. Medicaid may be an easy target again this year, because the state expects to save money under the new managed care system and a revised formula for paying hospitals.
We'll know more when the governor formally proposes his budget Wednesday morning. And he only gets to suggest ideas to the Legislature, which has the final say and will iron out the details during the 2014 session that ends in May.
Click here to see the full version of the chart, including the specific numbers behind it.
For the wonks reading this, here are the caveats:
- -We didn't include Scott's proposal to spending $3.2 million more in law enforcement training because that comes from a separate pot of money paid for by court fine.
- -We didn't include his $200 million boost in transportation spending, since Scott didn't specify how much of that was state versus federal dollars.
- -Scott says he will boost education spending by $542 million, and we gave him credit for the full amount. We have no way of knowing how much of that money is actually due to increases in student enrollment, which actually shouldn't be counted as new spending. We also don't know how much of that $542 million is general revenue, versus local dollars.