Bill Galvano

The forecast for Florida’s next budget year looks relatively positive, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told senators in a memo Friday. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of House and Senate members, will meet Sept. 14 and take up the 2018 Long Range Financial Outlook.

A draft version of the report, which analyzes state spending and revenue over a three-year period, was released Friday. Galvano, who is scheduled to become the top Senate leader in November, said the new report “gives us reason to be optimistic by providing confirmation that our past budget and policy decisions have successfully contributed to sustained economic growth.” He noted last year’s long-range forecast projected a revenue shortfall of more than $1.1 billion for the 2019-2020 budget year. But the new report projects a $223 million surplus for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

He said the report, coupled with other indicators, demonstrates the “extremely strong and growing economy” in Florida, citing the state’s job-growth rate and efforts to improve the state’s credit rating by reducing government debt. But Galvano also noted that while the forecast showed “modest surpluses” in the current year and next budget year, it is followed by projected shortfalls in subsequent years. “These projections give us reason to again proceed cautiously as we evaluate policies requiring new financial commitments,” he said.

The Legislature will begin its annual 60-day session in March.