(The Center Square) – The state of Florida saw a surplus of $21.8 billion for the 2022 fiscal year, the highest in state history and more than 21% higher than the state’s spending plan, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
Tax collections in May were $742 million above estimates; preliminary data for June is approximately $950 million above estimates.
“Despite the headwinds created by the Biden administration’s policies, Florida is in a strong fiscal position because we preserved freedom and kept our economy open,” DeSantis said. “Our responsible policies have allowed us to make record investments to support our communities, promote education, protect the environment, and provide record tax relief for Floridians, all while building record reserves to protect the state against the reckless fiscal policies from Washington.”
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Florida’s surplus includes a record $15.7 billion in unallocated general revenue, $2.8 billion in unallocated trust funds and $2.7 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as its Rainy-Day Fund, the highest in state history.
The surplus also includes $499 million in the newly created Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund.
Florida also continues to outpace the nation with record employment growth and low unemployment.
The unemployment rate remains steady at 3%, 0.6% lower than the national rate. It’s remained lower than the national rate for 18 consecutive months, since December 2020, and has declined or held steady for 22 consecutive months.
Between May 2021 and May 2022, Florida’s workforce grew by 313,000 jobs, or 3%, faster than the national rate of 2.2% over the year.
Also, between May 2021 and May 2022, Florida’s total private sector employment grew by 459,500 jobs at a rate of 5.9%, faster than the national rate of 5.1% over the year.
Over the past two years, from May 2020 to May 2022, Florida employers have added jobs for 25 consecutive months. Since April 2021, Florida’s private sector over-the-year job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s for 14 consecutive months.
Florida tourism is also continuing a record streak. In the first quarter of 2022, 36 million people visited the Sunshine State, a 39.6% percent increase from the same period last year, according to VISIT FLORIDA.
It’s the third consecutive quarter that overall visitation to Florida has surpassed pre-pandemic visitation levels.
According to VISIT FLORIDA data, revenue generated from tourist spending saves every Florida family more than $1,600 in taxes every year. Additionally, bed tax revenues collected by counties have in total funded nearly $445 million in environmental projects over the past five fiscal years, including coral restoration, wetland mitigation, park maintenance and beautification, natural disaster recovery, and turtle rehabilitation.
A recent VISIT FLORIDA survey shows that Floridians “have a deep appreciation of their home state and its tourism industry, with nearly 60 percent agreeing that tourism improves their quality of life, and 70 percent agreeing they are proud to live in Florida.”