House and Senate members next week will get a dose of good financial news: An early projection shows lawmakers could have a surplus of $845.7 million as they craft a 2014-15 state budget. Analysts this week released a draft document that looks at the state’s finances over the next three years, taking into account tax revenues and likely expenses. The estimated $845.7 million surplus could be used during the 2014-15 fiscal year to increase spending or cut taxes — or it could be rolled into the budget for the following year. The projection comes with all sorts of caveats, as the 2014-15 year will not start until July 1.
One of the caveats is that $449 million of the surplus is considered one-time money, which complicates decisions about how to use it. Also, lawmakers likely will face competition from various interests for the money, along with Gov. Rick Scott’s recent pledge to cut taxes next year by $500 million. The Legislative Budget Commission, a joint panel of House and Senate members, is scheduled to receive a presentation about the surplus and other long-term financial issues during a meeting Thursday.
The full report is below.–News Service of Florida