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Florida Legislators Looking at State Finances Ahead of 2021 Session

Dan Coronavirus, Economy, Florida, Legislative

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(NSF) — A top Florida economist told lawmakers last week that financial problems could linger for a couple of years because of the resurging coronavirus pandemic. This comes as first-time unemployment claims tripled in the first full week of 2021.

Amy Baker, the coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, says that while many business sectors recovered quickly from the pandemic’s initial hit last spring, uncertainty remains about the recovery of the state’s vital tourism industry.

“As we’ve moved into the fall, as we’re looking at the December numbers and some of the very early January numbers, we know that the resurgence of the coronavirus is causing people to start to draw back a little bit.”

The economic damage caused by the pandemic has led to sharp reductions in projected tax revenues. Legislators face about a 2.75-billion-dollar shortfall as they prepare to piece together a 2021-2022 budget during the annual legislative session that begins March 2nd.

Senator Kelli Stargel, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, says tough decisions will have to be made in the coming months.

 “What is the core function of government? What do we need to be providing to our citizens? We need to make sure we are providing that, and then make sure we have a buffer for the future unknowns that we really do not know.”

The state Department of Economic Opportunity is slated to release a December report on January 22nd.

From The News Service of Florida