On Friday, the Legislative Budget Commission accepted a report that indicated Florida’s general revenue collections are projected to be above the pre-pandemic forecasted levels for Fiscal Year 2021-22 and Fiscal Year 2022-23.

Also, revenue collections are expected to increase approximately four percent per year throughout the forecast period.

Speaking Friday at the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, House budget leader Jay Trumbull credited Florida’s swift reopening and a history of prudent budgeting for getting the state’s finances back on track — and even above pre-pandemic estimates. Trumbull, a Panama City Republican who is co-chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, said the report indicates “the state’s budget is in great shape.”

Trumbull pointed to the decision to reopen Florida’s economy while other states remained on pandemic lockdown and “prudent” budgeting by the Legislature.

“Compared to our position last year, when we were facing a much lower revenue forecast, our current outlook is very positive,” Trumbull said.

The report, which is called the Long-Range Financial Outlook (Outlook), is issued annually by the Legislative Budget Commission as required by Florida’s Constitution. The Outlook provides a longer-range picture of the state’s fiscal position that integrates expenditure projections for the major programs driving Florida’s annual budget requirements with the latest official revenue estimates.

The Outlook does not predict the overall funding levels of future state budgets or the final amount of funds to be allocated to the respective budget areas—it simply presents a reasonable baseline to help the Legislature avoid future budget problems and maintain financial stability between fiscal years.

The Outlook also reported that projected expenditures are considerably less than the General Revenue funds expected to be available—significant surpluses are projected for all three fiscal years.

The Outlook does not account for any new or expanded programs; new appropriations projects; or potential risks such as hurricanes or other natural disasters

The overall projected ending balance for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which will start July 1, is about $7 billion. The Outlook noted that “the increasingly positive budget outlook each year is reliant on the projected balance forward levels being available and the minimum reserve not being used.”

“Even though this outlook shows positive news, I do want to caution folks that these sizable balances depend on the Legislature continuing to show restraint in creating or expanding recurring programs,” Trumbull said.

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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jay Trumbull” by Jay Trumbull. Background Photo “Money” by SCR3AMFR3AK. Background Photo “Old Florida State Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.