Florida and Tampa Bay have bright prospects, economist says

Florida and Tampa Bay will be in good economic shape for 2018 and beyond, an economist for Florida Taxwatch predicts. Kyle Baltuch, who also is director of development at Florida Taxwatch, offered that assessment during a Feb. 2 luncheon hosted by the Pasco Economic Development Council. He said his optimism stems in part from strides made last year. He pointed to Florida’s gross … [Read more...]

Governor slashes some budget items

Pasco County had some hits and misses in the 2017 state budget. Gov. Rick Scott signed a statewide budget bill of about $82 billion on March 17. But not before he slashed about $256 million in vetoed items, including $11 million sought for the proposed performing arts center at the Pasco-Hernando State College. However, he spared some Pasco projects including $450,000 for repairs and upkeep … [Read more...]

Pasco master plan seeks to improve parks and recreation

A proposed master plan for Pasco County's parks and recreation facilities would cost an estimated $222 million over 10 years, according to a needs assessment from consultants at AECOM. About $112 million of that amount would be targeted at new amenities for the county's growing population. A 2001 master plan projected about 51,000 more people over 10 years. The actual number was closer to … [Read more...]

Florida nation’s most veteran-friendly state?

What does it take to become the most veteran-friendly state in the nation? Just follow Florida's example. At least that's what Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan advocacy group on how taxpayer money is spent, is sharing as the state honors its veterans. "Florida is proud of the brave servicemen and women who have chosen to build their lives and raise their families in the Sunshine State," … [Read more...]

Election Day is here! And so is everything you need to know

Today is Election Day where Florida will elect a governor, an attorney general, a chief financial officer and an agriculture commissioner among others. Locally, however, voters will have to decide on representatives in Tallahassee, as well as who will represent their interests on the county commission. In last week's print edition of The Laker/Lutz News, we offered an election primer, which you … [Read more...]

TaxWatch: Reduce prison population, release the elderly

With Florida’s prison population continuing to rise despite the decline in crime rates, a statewide tax advocacy group is making a suggestion on how to make more room: Release elderly prisoners. Florida TaxWatch has released a report in aging prisoners, warning that the steadily growing elderly prison population in state facilities will require more costly medical care, resulting in additional … [Read more...]

Florida on way to 100 million tourists annually

Tourism remains one of Florida’s largest industries, and one advocacy group says investment from the government created nearly 76,000 jobs in 2013. The analysis, reported by Florida TaxWatch, says the state could reach its goal of attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2015. “Florida’s thriving tourism industry provides extraordinary opportunities for economic growth,” said Dominic … [Read more...]

Legislature cuts revenue, but misses goal

Florida TaxWatch is praising the state Legislature for working to be more efficient with taxpayer dollars after an evaluation of bills passed in the most recent term showed revenue to the state would decline by more than $550 million. That reduction would still leave $1.65 billion in general revenue reserves for the fiscal year. Fiscal stewards in the Legislature wisely did not spend all of … [Read more...]

PHSC project one of Florida TaxWatch’s ‘turkeys’

Will Pasco-Hernando State College get that performing arts center it has been hoping for? Not if the governor is paying attention to political activist group Florida TaxWatch. The $10 million project is one of more than $120 million in taxpayer "turkeys" TaxWatch says is in this year's state budget. A turkey, according to the group, does not mean that the project isn't worthy of funding. … [Read more...]

Lawmakers get closer on final state budget

There is still time for Florida lawmakers to hammer out a budget. But a review by Florida TaxWatch shows there's still some separation between the House and Senate when it comes to education, water and tax cuts. When legislators return  from a recess next week, they are expected to begin the budget conferencing process, where members from both chambers negotiate differences in funding levels, … [Read more...]