Long-term report projects $336 million budget surplus for ’15-’16

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Florida state lawmakers will have an additional $336 million budget surplus for the year beginning July 2015, according to a draft report issued Wednesday afternoon.

The annual Long-Range Financial Outlook based the projected surplus on the probability of the Legislature continuing to set aside $1 billion in reserves, as well as spending on high-priority issues.

Although lawmakers could use the surplus for tax-cuts and other programs that continue from one year to the next, the report says it would have “a compounding effect over time,” resulting in less money in the future, even though the state would never go into debt, as long as it maintains the reserves.

Florida’s economy will likely continue to grow, at least for the time being, but is not quite fully recovered, the report also says.

“In the forecast, months of modest growth are expected before normalcy is largely achieved by Fiscal Year 2016-17 with construction and real estate still presenting notable exceptions,” the report says.

The draft report was presented to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, a committee made up of both House and Senate members.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.