It’s time for the 2013 Legislative Session. Legislators have been elected. Committees have been appointed. The Legislature is in Session as you read this.
Last year was a banner year for FATA as both the tax exemption for labor and parts repairs on aircraft, and the statutory retroactive reversal of a Florida Department of Revenue ruling applicable to FBOs, were signed into law by the Governor. The 2013 Legislative Session is certain to be packed with new issues to benefit FATA members. Both House and Senate leadership indicated that their respective legislative chambers will explore additional ways to reduce the regulatory and tax burden on Florida businesses.
For the first time in five years, the State of Florida’s economic forecasters are predicting a budget surplus. It is a budget surplus of less than 1%, but it is a positive number—something many legislators have never seen in their tenure in Tallahassee. However, it must be disclosed that Florida has its own “fiscal cliff” that could wipe out the surplus depending upon how the Florida Supreme Court rules in the coming weeks before Session.
During the budget crisis of 2011, the Legislature determined that one way to cut costs was to do what nearly every other state in the country has done: make government employees contribute some portion of their salary to their pension plan. The Governor signed a bill requiring a 3% pension contribution, and the government employee unions took the pension bill to court. If the Florida Supreme Court sides with the employees who challenged the pension contribution, the State of Florida will take a $2 billion hit to the budget, with over a billion needed to repay employees and slightly less than a billion to cover the current budget obligation to fund their pensions. An adverse decision would create havoc in the budget process and would naturally bleed over into substantive legislation, especially economic development-related bills. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the Florida Supreme Court upholds the 3% contribution.
The Governor is expected to take bold steps toward creating new jobs and encouraging investment in Florida businesses as he rolls out his legislative initiatives. It’s likely we won’t see the details until February, but it’s nearly certain that the Legislature will be eager to adopt the Governor’s proposals in its business-friendly agenda. As for general aviation bills, nothing has been filed yet—but it’s still early in the bill-filing process, with less than 5% of the anticipated 3000 bills filed.
We’ll be walking the halls of the Capitol on your behalf in 2013 and will report back as issues develop. Let us know of any concerns that you have about legislation or regulatory matters. Often it is the business owner hundreds of miles from Tallahassee that is the first to sound the alarm over an unreasonable agency rule or poorly-drafted legislation.