My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As many of you prepare to send your children back to school, or go back to school yourself, the cost of new clothes and classroom items can seem daunting. However, in an effort to help alleviate some of this seasonal stress, the state offers a tax-free weekend that can save families some funds that can be used for other things.

I encourage you to use this holiday as an opportunity to kick-start your family’s back-to-school preparation, and you can even think of it as an opportunity to teach your children a lesson about how taxes work and how to spend within your means.

Tax-free weekend begins this Friday, August 5 and runs until midnight on Sunday, August 7. Pencils, pens and notebooks, new clothes and certain technology items are all available for purchase tax free. Before you hit the stores, I encourage you to check out this helpful list of tax free items to learn the specifics of what items are included and which are not.

While we’re in the back-to-school spirit, I’d also like to remind everyone that our annual Unclaimed Property Auction is right around the corner. We’re hosting this year’s auction in Tampa on Saturday, August 13. We’ll be at the Tampa Marriott Westshore located at 1001 N. Westshore Boulevard. A full preview day of the auction will be held Friday, August 12. If you wish to join us, here are the details: www.fltreasurehunt.org

For me, August has always been all about the kids. In the midst of the temporary stress of planning for your child or loved one’s new bus route, after school activities, or first-day jitters; I hope that Florida’s 2016 tax-free weekend helps to reduce the stress at least a little bit.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


News of Interest

Insurance Journal: Florida Business Owner Accused of Stealing $1M in Workers’ Comp Scheme

Florida Politics: AIF forms workers’ comp task force

Naples Daily News: Gas prices keep falling; some Florida metros below $2 a gallon

Orlando Sentinel: As commercial space race grows, student interest takes off

University of Florida News: Florida consumer sentiment up in July, reversing a three-month slide

Reuters: Feds expand crackdown on secret real estate deals in Florida

Florida TaxWatch: Mid-year jobs report: Florida beating pre-recession job growth

Florida CFO Atwater Announces Nomination of FACTS for NASCIO Award

FACTSChief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS) has been nominated by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) as a finalist in the Open Government and Data, Information and Knowledge Management category for the 2016 NASCIO State IT Recognition Awards. Award winners will be announced Monday, September 19 during the NASCIO Annual Conference in Orlando.

"At the beginning of my first term, we embarked on a mission to make Florida one of the most fiscally transparent states in the nation," said CFO Atwater. "Now at the click of a mouse, Floridians are able to see how their tax dollars are being spent and we are proud to be recognized as a finalist by NASCIO as excelling in this endeavor."

In 2011, DFS leveraged existing technology and in-house expertise to successfully design, develop and deploy FACTS. The FACTS website allows users to search by state agency, vendor, dollar amount, data and commodity or service type, for contract and expenditure information. In 2012, nearly $50 billion or approximately 56 percent of the state budget, was spent on contracts and agreements for goods and services. With the release of FACTS, for the first time these contracts and agreements were available online for anyone to search and download.

A diverse group of stakeholders uses the information made available through the FACTS website. State entities use the website to view other agencies' contracts to ensure their own contracts are competitively priced, as well as to identify and leverage possible collaborative contracting opportunities. Private businesses use the website to view relevant contracts to see if they can provide more competitive pricing and a better value to the state. Residents, experts, and other groups use the website to download and analyze information for research purposes and to also serve as watchdogs over the spending of taxpayer money.

Florida's Bottom Line: Transporting Florida’s Future

Bob Burleson guest authored a column in our latest edition that focuses on transportation infrastructure. Here is an excerpt:

Florida’s transportation infrastructure is a vital part of every Floridian’s daily life. It is also one of the first things more than 100 million annual visitors experience upon arrival to the Sunshine State. Only through a high quality transportation system will Florida be transported to the bright future we desire.

Read more from Bob Burleson in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's economic and financial health.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. real GDP increased 1.2 percent
U.S. real GDP increased 1.2 percent in the second quarter according to an advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real gross domestic product is the value of goods and services produced by the nation’s economy after adjusting for inflation.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Florida's consumer confidence up in July
Consumer confidence in Florida rose in July. Of the five components that make up the index, four increased and only one decreased — consumers' perceptions of the national economy over the next five years.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida