January 19, 2024
To: Members of the Florida State Legislature
From: Americans for Tax Reform
Re: Continuing Florida’s Economic Leadership & Protecting Taxpayers in 2024
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Florida, I thank you for your public service and applaud your efforts to protect Florida taxpayers and promote a free and prosperous economy.
This session, we urge you to continue to reject any tax increases, or policies that needlessly promote government interference in the state’s nation-leading economy, to keep Florida’s tax and business climate as the best in the nation. With nearly 40 legislators and a governor who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Florida is in good hands.
ATR also applauds the numerous conservative legislative victories you achieved last session, especially tort reform, universal school choice, and paycheck protection. These wins make Florida an even more free, and attractive place to live, work, and raise a family.
During this short session, one major pro-taxpayer, free market reform should be the top priority: universal occupational license recognition.
Universal Occupational License Recognition & Removal of Barriers to Employment
I applaud you and your colleagues for introducing legislation to make it easier for health professionals to relocate to and begin treating patients in Florida. Multiple pro-worker, pro-consumer bills have been filed this session that would have the state recognize out-of-state occupational licenses that are in good standing, including House Bill 1549, and House Bill 1381/Senate Bill 1600. ATR supports these efforts.
By removing unnecessary barriers for out-of-state professionals to get to work in Florida, including time to take tests and various fees, Floridians win as the state’s workforce shortage is addressed and new taxpayers can begin to earn a living in Florida more quickly.
The success Florida has had in attracting new residents and businesses has made it the fastest growing state in the nation. That population growth only increases the need for skilled workers, and healthcare professionals, making the reforms in SB 1600/HB 1381 urgently needed.
As of 2023, 15 states have enacted the gold standard for universal license recognition, it’s time Florida assumed its rightful place among these leaders.
Conservative Spending Principles Lead to Concerns with HB 151
Florida has been a leading state in containing the growth of spending under the rate of inflation and population growth, a new Sustainable Budget Project analysis published by Americans for Tax Reform shows. With the overwhelming, and earned success of the state, tax revenues and budgets have understandably increased. Yet, taking care to not elevate spending levels too much will be critical to ensuring Florida remains the best tax environment in the nation for decades to come.
Florida legislators made a good change to government pensions last year by increasing the amount workers and their employers contribute to their defined contribution plans, which is the state’s primary retirement plan thanks to forward-looking reforms. This is a move toward controlling open-ended, unfunded pension liabilities that taxpayers must cover if needed.
However, permanently increasing pension fund costs with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) moves in the wrong direction. That is what House Bill 151 would do, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs at every level of government.
Meanwhile, there is work to do to continue to sure up Florida’s pension system, which has $40 billion in unfunded liabilities, and “relies too much on generating higher-than-realistic investment returns” (according to Reason Foundation).
A one-time infusion of funds into the retirement accounts of government workers could be an appropriate compromise.
Reforming Court Fines & Fees, HB 1111/SB 1310
Reforming fines and fees in the justice system should be a priority for improving public safety, and due process. House Bill 187/ Senate Bill 1310 make commonsense improvements to ensure that people who owe fines and court fees are not barred from getting to work, or stuck with endless debt because they truly cannot afford to pay.
Judges would have more options to shift a fine or fee to community service, modify payment plans, and cap costs for fees. The number of payment plans someone has would be limited to one per county, making it easier to track and comply, among other provisions.
Americans for Tax Reform
Americans for Tax Reform thanks you for your hard work protecting Florida taxpayers and advancing freedom in the state. Enacting universal licensure would be another massive conservative victory for the legislature and workers in Florida.