Florida CFO calls for quick look at tax impacts of coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants state economists to quickly determine the potential impact of COVID-19 on the state’s tax revenues.

Patronis on Friday wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis about the need to convene the Revenue Estimating Conference “to ensure there is sufficient revenue” to pay for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

“The financial projections for our state have dramatically changed from what they were at the beginning of the FY 2021 budget-making process,” Patronis wrote, a day after lawmakers passed a $93.2 billion budget for 2020-2021. “Our current year budget (2019-2020) is also likely to be affected by the mass shutdown and closures forced by COVID-19.”

The Revenue Estimating Conference is a panel of economists that typically meets quarterly to update estimates of tax revenues.

Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva said Thursday they expect the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet monthly rather than quarterly due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Patronis also said the State Board of Administration, which manages state investments, should make an assessment about Florida’s credit rating, which could be affected if the state has to use money from reserves or borrow money because of COVID-19.

Lawmakers put an additional $300 million into reserves in the new budget to brace for the effects of the outbreak, with the state’s three major reserve funds totaling about $3.9 billion.