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Florida Government Spending Report


by Michael Hodges

- notice > updated March 2004 -

- a chapter of the Grandfather Economic Reports -


Florida: State + Local Government Totals

Data Actual Should Be Excess
Gov't. Spending 2000 $ 84 Billion $ 52 Billion $32 Billion
Employee count 697,000 394,000 303,000
  1. Record keeping is minimal at best for consolidated state and local government spending and employee counts in Florida, as relating to long-term historical trends. For regulatory compliance costs to the State's private sector from federal, state and local government mandates, no records were found.
  2. The records that were found indicate state and local government spending and employee count (the government sector) ratios to population and gross state product are double what they should be (see above table), compared to prior generations. As a result, the free-market private sector has a smaller share of the State's economy than what it has had in prior generations.
  3. Trends of such are up dramatically, in a most dangerous manner.
  4. The charts of this report 'scream' PRIVATIZE, PRIVATIZE, PRIVATIZE - - large chunks of Florida state & local government.
  5. There is no evidence of any state-wide review and budget process regarding setting targets to return state & local government spending to 6% of gross state product (GSP) (or, even to the 12% ratio), form its current level of 19% share of the economy. It is as if the size of government relative to the economy is of zero interest to leaders.


  1. There appears to be no central State agency charged with the responsibility to maintain and annually publish clean, up-to-date, long-term historic records on consolidated spending and headcounts for all Florida state & local governments, broken down into state only, local governments (as shown in this report series), and summation of these - - to render a clear report of trends of various elements and ratios to gross state product, to personal income and to population.
  2. Considering the rapid growth of local government spending, relative to the size of the economy, the Governor's Office and the Legislature must organize to pay attention to this area, in addition to state-only. In speaking with many state officials, while gathering data for this report, it is apparent that their focus is ONLY to revenues flowing to the State, and appropriations (spending authority) from the Legislature - - and budget reporting flowing from same. No emphasis was realized considering direct state and local government spending and headcounts, and trends of ratios of same to GSP and population. These ratios should be known, AND budgeted. If at state level comprehensive planning is mandated on local governments, then why is not reporting and budgeting mandated for certain key ratios like local government size relative to the economy?
  3. Further, there appears to be zero source of clean records of regulatory cost burdens on the state's private sector as necessary to comply with federal, or state, or local government mandates. Such records should be developed and include a historical perspective, including annual reporting - with consideration given to budget said costs.
  4. The cabinet and legislature should have these annual reports to enable them to know the direction of key indicators relative to the share of the state's economy (and trends) for government spending and mandates vs. that part remaining being the pure-private sector's share of the state's economy.
  5. From the data at hand for this report, the resulting charts reveal a spending spree at state and local government levels, out of line with population and growth of the general economy. Excess spending of at least $31 Billion, and excess government employee count of 300,000, is indicated.
  6. Education: the author was unable to find clean education performance data, such as long-term relation of SAT scores to real per student spending for public and private primary & secondary schools in Florida - - such that a similar review as performed by the author for nation-wide results - as published in the nation-wide Education Report linked from the first page of this report. There is no doubt in the author's mind that data for Florida would also reflect the very poor performance for quality and spending efficiency shown nation-wide, compared to foreign nations and to prior generations.
  7. Demographics cannot be used by apologists to justify the increased ratios for state & local government spending and employee counts on education demands, since: the youth population (ages 0-19) will grow about as fast as overall population. In 1980, persons aged 0 to 19 numbered 2,688,114, making up 27.6 percent of the total population. In 1990, there were 3,232,455 persons in this age group (25.0 percent of the population). In 2000 there will be 3,883,988 persons age 19 and younger, representing 25.2 percent of the total and in 2010, this age group will number 4,289,352 and represent 24.1 percent of the total state population. Concerning the aged: In 1980, there were 1,687,573 Floridians aged 65 and older (17.3 percent of the total population). The 1990 census enumerated 2,355,926 elderly (18.2 percent of total). A major concern will be the slow growth among those in the prime labor force age group (ages 25-59). In the future, the proportion of the total population this group represents is expected to begin falling, declining modestly from 45.6 percent of the population in 2000 to 44.1 percent by 2010 with more rapid declines after 2010.Data source: Economic and Demographic Research Division Report - Joint Legislative Management Committee, Florida Legislature.
  8. AUTHOR NOTE: since the growth rate of Florida's total population is slowing down, it is even more imperative that government spending and employee count ratios be targeted for significant reductions. Since state & local government employees have been rising much faster than the general population, and this is the very age group in the population at large that is slowing down - then it is obvious that the non-government employee portion is under great pressure to finance this government expansion. A reduction of government headcounts, converting same to the private sector, should greatly enhance Florida's economic future - - compared to non-action.


  1. The Governor's Office and the Legislature should mandate record keeping and reporting according to the above for state direct and local government by entity, showing also historic results.
  2. The charts presented in this Grandfather Florida Government Spending Report should be up-dated according to data from the above, and discussions held to establish budget goals in terms of ratios - - with targets set to return spending and headcount ratios to that of prior years - - in order not to burden the next generation more so than that of prior generations.
  3. Available data indicates that headcount and spending levels for state & local government may be as much as 100% too high - - meaning $31 Billion to much as of 2000 (and 284,000 employees too much as of 1992).
  4. Interim targets should be budgeted to cut the spending ratio so it does not exceed 11.7% of GSP and headcount ratios not to exceed 2.8% of the population, such that today's young generation will not be expected to carry on their backs a higher ratio than prior generations of 1957. Actually, final targets should be set below these ratios - closer to 6% of GSP for spending, and 2% headcounts to population.
  5. Action plans to privatize large segments of state & local government are indicated as needed. This should be done in a manner as to also eliminate government from the revenue streams of said privatization, or government effective control of said portion of the economy has not been reduced. In other words, government should 'sell' selected operations to the highest bidder in the private sector in such a manner as to phase-down government involvement.

COMMENT: the author hopes this report provides useful information to assist those of responsibility to take proper actions to assure that our young generation is not required to carry more government spending and employees, than prior generations. Comments and areas of action have been discussed in this report, for the purpose of stimulating discussion. The author would appreciate hearing from others with different comments and action suggestions. With 19% of the economy dependent upon state & local government spending ($84 Billion), there are obviously powerful forces aligned against reducing government share of the economy.

NOTE: the author requests that additional data (especially for periods before 1957 and after 1992), corrections, and omissions by email to help make this report as accurate as possible. EMAIL author

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