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Florida Economists: Revenue Up, Forecast Remains Weak

July 26, 2012 - 6:00pm

Florida pulled in $407 million in revenue above predictions for the end of the recently completed fiscal year.

But dont call it a windfall. Economists point out that most of the money was either one-time dollars or simply a trick of the calendar on accounting books.

Sales tax did account for a little more than $150 million of the total -- a good sign that people were dipping into their wallets heading into a period that economists forecast will see a downturn in spending.

July looks like it is coming in a little bit below estimate and we have a slightly weaker economic forecast, said Amy Baker, Floridas chief economist, on Friday.

Even though the sales tax has the potential to add money in the forecast, its probably not as strong as what it looks like.

But the total also includes a little more than $70 million in corporate income taxes that businesses normally pay on the first of the month.

Since July 1 landed on a Sunday, many businesses sent the money out prior to the weekend.

While the state anticipated the money, for fiscal records it will show as part of the totals for FY 2011-2012, which ended June 30, and simply be rolled into the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, members of the estimating conference kept the pace of Medicaid growth at slightly above $1 billion a year, without computing the possible hikes that could come with the Supreme Court-approved Affordable Care Act.

The economists will gather Aug. 14 to review the first potential impacts for the federal health care law, also known as Obamacare, which fully goes into place in 2014.

Gov. Rick Scott has claimed the federal health-care law would cost the state an additional $1.9 billion a year, as he repeatedly announced that Florida will join other states in opting out of Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act and won't set up insurance exchanges.

In upholding the Act, the nation's top court ruled all individuals must buy insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 and in favor of the massive expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor. But the court added that the White House couldnt threaten to withhold funding for states that opt out of the expansion.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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