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Florida’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Florida’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $92.3 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, Florida’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $172.5 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $8,027 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.
Florida’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($1,420) and public welfare ($1,341). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
Florida’s combined state and local general revenues were $172.8 billion in FY 2019, or $8,039 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Florida does not levy an individual income tax. Florida’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($1,603), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and federal transfers ($1,545).
Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, was elected in 2018 with 49.6 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022.
Republicans control both the House of Representatives (78 Republicans to 42 Democrats) and Senate (24 Republicans to 16 Democrats). Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in Florida. All Florida House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve a combination of two- and four-year terms during each decade’s legislative district apportionment cycle. This 2-4-4 term system ensures all Senate seats are up for election after new legislative district boundaries are drawn. All senators are therefore up for election in 2022. Both members of the House and Senate are term limited and cannot seek reelection if by the end of their current term they will have served more than eight consecutive years in office.
Florida’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
Florida uses an annual budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. Florida further limits annual revenue growth with a budget rule based on personal income. This is a binding rule that requires a legislative supermajority or vote of the people to override. After voters approved Amendment 5 in 2018, Florida now also requires a two-thirds supermajority vote in each chamber of the state legislature for legislation containing any new tax or fee or any increase to an existing tax or fee. There are also limits on total authorized debt and debt service incurred by the state.
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
Florida’s current budget
Florida enacted its FY 2022 budget in June 2021. The enacted budget included $101.5 billion in total spending and $36.3 billion in general fund spending.
Under the American Rescue Plan, Florida will receive $8.8 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $5.7 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Florida had spent part of its state ARP funds on capital construction, environmental protection programs, and economic development.
According to NASBO, Florida’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
FY 2021: $34.8 billion/$92.3 billion
FY 2020: $33.9 billion/$86.0 billion
FY 2019: $33.0 billion/$82.6 billion
For more on Florida’s budget, see
Florida’s economic trends
Florida’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $60,761 in 2021, ranking 20th among the states. It was below the national average of $63,444, but above the Southeast regional average of $56,118. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $57,703 in 2020, ranking 37th among the states and below the national average of $64,994. Florida’s poverty rate was 13.3 percent in 2020 (five-year estimate), above the national rate of 12.8 percent.
Although Florida’s averages tell a story about the entire state, Florida is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of Belle Glade’s median household income was $28,028, and its poverty rate was 40.2 percent; the city of Parkland’s median household income was $159,692, and its poverty rate was 3.6 percent.
Florida’s unemployment rate has historically followed national trends. Unemployment in Florida was especially high after the Great Recession, but in recent years has tracked the national average closely. (See how COVID-19 is affecting state employment and earnings data.)
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. In Florida, the average unemployment rate in 2021 was 4.1 percent for white residents, 6.3 percent for Black residents, and 5.4 percent for Hispanic or Latino residents. (This is preliminary data. See the 2020 data for a more detailed breakdown of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.)