Fla. economists predicting steady growth
Florida economists are projecting that the state's economy should continue to grow steadily over the next three years.
After a decade that saw the state's economy soar - and then crash during the Great Recession - economists are expecting a continued gradual recovery.
"We finally entered a period of stability where everything is behaving predictably and we are able to see that unfolding as we think," said Amy Baker, coordinator of the state's Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
Baker and other economists are meeting Friday to draw up estimates on how much money the state is expected to collect in taxes. Florida's main tax is a 6 percent sales tax, and collections dropped during the recession.
Preliminary forecasts show that economists are predicting state tax collections will grow in a range between 3 percent and 5 percent between this year and 2016.
Baker said that Florida has seen higher periods of growth during past economic recoveries. But "clearly it is on a steady, upward path," she said.
These forecasts, however, noted that the projections are being affected by automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequester that took effect this year.
Economists said they have reduced their overall projections by a quarter of a percent to account for less spending because of the budget cuts, which are impacting federal operations such as the military as well as the Florida National Guard.
But if the forecast holds, then Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature will have a nearly $2 billion budget surplus heading into the 2014 election year.
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