Politics of Florida
Politics of Florida reflect a state that has experienced conflict between its liberal southeastern region and its traditionally conservative northern region. Politics often revolve around budgeting and how money for budgets should be raised.
Florida approved its lottery by amending the constitution in 1984. It approved slot machines in Miami-Dade County in 2004. It has disapproved casinos (outside of sovereign Seminole and Miccosukee tribal areas) three times: 1978, 1986, and 1994.
Florida is one of the nine states that do not impose a personal income tax (list of others). The state had imposed a tax on "intangible personal property" (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, etc.), but this tax was abolished after 2006. The state sales tax rate is 6%. Local governments may levy an additional local option sales tax of up to 1.5%. A locale's use tax rate is the same as its sales tax rate, including local options, if any. Use taxes are payable for purchases made out of state and brought into Florida within six months of the purchase date. Documentary stamps are required on deed transfers and mortgages. Other taxes include corporate income, communication services, unemployment, solid waste, insurance premium, pollutants, and various fuel taxes.
Florida has a Balanced Budget Amendment, requiring the state not to have a budget deficit. The requirement for a balanced budget does not appear as such in the Florida Constitution. Article VII, Section 1(d), Florida Constitution, provides: "Provision shall be made by law for raising sufficient revenue to defray the expenses of the state for each fiscal period." Article III, Section 19(a), Florida Constitution, provides for "Annual Budgeting." These two provisions, when read together, form the basis for the balanced annual budget requirement.
Florida's state budget is funded one-third from General Revenue and two-thirds from hundreds of trust funds. The General Revenue portion of Florida's state budget is funded primarily by sales tax, while local governments also have their own respective budgets funded primarily by property taxes. The annual state budget is constructed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor who administers it. The state budget for 2008-9 was $66 billion.
In 2008, the state was one of four which had fully funded pension systems for government employees, including teachers. There are five classes of state employees for pension investment: Regular and Special Risk Administrative employees accrue retirement benefits at 1.6%-1.68% per year; Senior Management, 2%; Special Risk employees, such as police and firefighters, 3%; and elected officers, including judges and legislative at 3% to 3.3%. The higher rate for the latter is to encourage early retirement. In 2010 there were 304,000 state retirees and 655,000 active employees. The average teacher's retirement check is $1,868 monthly. The average regular class retiree gets $970 per month.
In 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, the state collected over $2.2 billion from the tax on gasoline.
In 2011, Medicaid costs were 20% of the budget. These are mandated by the federal government. While the state administers the program, it has no actual control over expenses. From 2000 to 2010, Medicaid costs rose from $8 billion to $18 billion.
Education costs were 30% of the budget.
The $70 billion budget for 2010-11 contained the following allocations:
- Health and Social Services $30 billion
- Education $21.2 billion
- Transportation $7.9 billion
- Criminal Justice and Corrections $4.5 billion
- General government $4 billion
- Natural Resources and Environment $3 billion
- Reserves $2.28 billion
- Courts $459 million
In 2011, illegal immigrants were estimated to cost the Florida government $700 million. This included $548 million for children (excluding American-born children of undocumented aliens). Average student cost is $9,035. There are an estimated 60,750 illegal immigrant children of school age. There are 5,641 illegals in Florida prisons at an average cost of $18,980 annually, for a total of $107 million. A 2003 study indicated unpaid hospital costs of $40 million annually.
High level state officers use one of two airplanes to get around Florida. Flights take 90 minutes to get from the capital at Tallahassee to Miami. In February 2011, Governor Scott directed the sale of both airplanes.
In 2011, as a result of Governor Rick Scott's executive order, the department required that all workers be verified as U.S. citizens with e-verify. This applied to contracts and funds otherwise under the jurisdiction of local government.
Florida is one of several states where the courts are required to be involved in every step of the foreclosure process. By 2012, it took three years to complete the process. In nonjudicial states, it takes an average of 100 days. As a result of the United States housing bubble, there is a large backlog of housing that is in the foreclosure process but unavailable to the market. This overhang has had a detrimental affect on the housing market.
Florida is considered "accommodating" to guns, by national standards. There are 56 laws relating to owning, transporting, and using guns. "open carries" are nearly always illegal. Convicted felons have few rights to gun possession.
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- Haridopolos, Mike (March 11, 2014). "Legislature aims to rewrite gaming rules. 'Complex' issue affects billions of dollars in state revenue". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1A. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
- "Florida Sales and Use Tax". State of Florida. Retrieved 2007-11-17.
- The Conference Report for Senate Bill 2800, the 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, authorizes the expenditure of $23,182,748,671 from the General Revenue Fund and $46,493,890,488 from Trust Funds (before gubernatorial veotes).
- Governor's Press Office (2008-06-11). "GOVERNOR CRIST SIGNS $66 BILLION BALANCED BUDGET, VETOES $251.1 MILLION".
- Mulvihill, Geoff (16 September 2010). "States cutting benefits to close pension funds gaps". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1A.
- Flemming, Paul (30 January 2011). "Pension crunch affects courts". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 10B.
- "State pension reform". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). 13 February 2011. pp. 22A.
- Gunnerson, Scott (April 21, 2013). "Toll". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 3A.
- Reed, Matt (23 January 2011). "GOP has changes planned this year". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1B.
- Reed, Matt (April 28, 2011). "Watchdog:Medicaid, education key issues". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1B.
- Cottrell, Bill (May 7, 2011). "Senate passes budget". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1A.
- Reed, Matt (25 January 2011). "$700M paid for illegal migrants". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 1B.
- Flemming, Paul (7 February 2010). "State sees drop in plane use". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 1A.
- , Announcement from the Governor's Office.
- "City must 'E-verify' workers as legal". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). 6 March 2011. pp. 1A.
- Fishkind, Hank (February 2, 2013). "Lawmakers can help boost economy". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). pp. 4B.
- "Owners face dovetailed laws, rights". Florida Today (Melbourne, Florida). February 3, 2013. pp. 1A.