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State economists see tourism growth cancelling out lagging housing starts

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Nothing emerged during a numbers-crunching exercise by state economists Tuesday to change the economic picture the Legislature will confront this year — growth in tourism and slack housing starts will offset each other as overall growth produces about $31 billion in general revenues. “Those are going to compensate for each other. So, overall, you end up about where you were, on the same path where we were heading,” said Amy Baker, coordinator for the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research.…

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Rick Scott’s favorite business incentive is losing money, Senate hears

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Gov. Rick Scott’s favored economic incentive program – the Quick Action Closing Fund (QAC) – is now losing money, the Legislature’s chief economist told a Senate panel Wednesday. The QAC is a pot of cash that Scott can draw up to $2 million from without legislative approval to entice businesses to the state. But though the state’s “return on investment” from QAC projects was $1.10 per dollar four years ago, it’s now down to 60 cents per dollar, Amy Baker…

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Economists wrap up consideration of felons’ voting rights

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A panel of state economists and forecasters spent Wednesday editing their notes on the costs of a constitutional amendment on felons’ voting rights. Amy Baker, who heads the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, noted the amendment’s opponents never submitted written material or testimony. The proposed Florida Voting Restoration Amendment would automatically return voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference has been struggling to figure out a price tag for the amendment. Changes to the state constitution first require a…

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Florida won’t have much extra money in 2017

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Florida will have very little extra money to spend in the coming year. That means top legislators and Gov. Rick Scott may have slash the state budget to meet some of their promises. The annual forecast released Tuesday shows that despite the state’s gradual economic recovery Florida is expected to bring in just enough money to meet its spending needs. That forecast shows the state will have a surplus of only $7.5 million during the fiscal year that starts in…

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Brexit brings slight chill in state economic forecast

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Brexit has caused state economists to shift their forecast for the national economy slightly downward. “Generally, the forecast is weaker than when we met in December,” said Amy Baker, director of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Baker said Britain’s decision last month to leave the European Union was “a big piece” of the adjustment, but she said it came on top of other indicators before the vote.  “The trend was softening anyway but with Brexit, they made…

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Economists puzzle over proposed gambling amendment

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If it’s approved, would a proposed constitutional amendment outlaw currently legal kinds of gambling? A panel of state economic analysts debated the question on Tuesday. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference, a slate of economists for the Legislature and executive branches, held a public workshop in Tallahassee on the Voter Control of Gambling amendment. It would “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says. It’s aiming to get on the 2018 statewide…

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State economists say “Smart Solar” amendment unlikely to have fiscal impact

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A panel of state economists and analysts estimated Monday one of two dueling ballot initiatives dealing with solar energy voters may consider on the November 2016 elections will not have any impact on state spending should it pass. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference, a slate of economists for the Legislature and executive branch, held a workshop in Tallahassee to hear from principals representing the group supporting the amendment – a group calling itself Consumers for Smart Solar – and to make changes…

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