COVID-19 impacts on Florida's finances remain unclear

In this photo illustration $100 banknotes are seen displayed. (Photo Illustration by Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Responding to questions from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a top state economist said it will be at least another month before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Florida’s finances can be analyzed.

“While each day brings additional information and clarity, the generation of credible estimates is not possible until next month at the earliest,” Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, wrote in an April 7 email released Monday by Patronis’ office. “At this point, what we do know is far outweighed by the assumptions we would need to make. There are still too many key questions for which there are no current answers. This would make any attempt to begin revising the estimates earlier than mid-May speculative, at best.”

Baker plays a leading role in revising state tax estimates. With COVID-19 forcing businesses to shut down or scale back, tax revenues are expected to plummet, possibly forcing lawmakers to make budget changes. P

atronis sent an email April 6 with a series of questions for Baker and other members of what is known as the Revenue Estimating Conference.

Those questions involved issues such as whether federal-stimulus money would be available to offset lost state sales-tax collections and whether the estimating conference plans to start meeting to analyze the effects of COVID-19 on the state’s finances.