My Florida C F O

Fellow Floridians:

For five generations, my family has called Florida home and there is no place in these United States where I would rather live, work and raise a family. In addition to enjoying our great state’s rich natural history and unmatched landscapes, I have had the honor of getting to know many of you personally. From Pensacola to Key West, and all stopsChief Financial Officer Seal in between, I have had the unique privilege of meeting your families, hearing your stories and answering your calls. You have graciously welcomed me into your homes, invited me to share meals and memories. Your words and life stories have been edifying to me and helped shape my time in public life. As I approach the end of our shared journey, the impact, influence and inspiration you have provided cannot be overstated.

This narrative began nearly 20 years ago, as vice mayor of North Palm Beach, when my family and I walked the blocks of our local neighborhood, learning first-hand from our friends and neighbors how they thought their government could do better. From those early days I went on to serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, as a Florida State Senator, Senate President, and finally as your elected Chief Financial Officer. During that time, we collectively faced the Great Recession and years of tough economic times. I worked alongside fellow lawmakers to cut taxes and create conditions that allowed families and businesses to recover and move forward. I am forever grateful for your support, your prayers and your votes of confidence.

Part of my responsibilities as CFO have included those of state treasurer. In that capacity, I committed our resources to increasing access to our state’s financial information and to ensure that Florida is using every tax dollar wisely. To hold myself and all state government leaders accountable, I posted our state’s expenses online for everyone to see, and transparent spending became the new Florida standard.

Knowing how much of a family budget goes to the government, I rededicated time and energy to eliminating the fraud, waste and abuse of government dollars that drive up the cost of living for all Florida families. I aggressively fought against insurance fraud and helped hold the line on rising insurance rates. Thousands of criminals are now behind bars, millions of dollars have been saved through our investigations, and through my final day in office, I will never stop fighting for you.

To keep more of your money in your pocket where it belongs, our unclaimed property team has identified unclaimed savings accounts, uncashed paychecks and misplaced insurance policies that families may have forgotten about or never knew existed, and returned those funds to them. In total, our Department has returned more than $1.6 billion in unclaimed property back to their rightful owners. A few years ago, we discovered that many life insurance companies, by claiming that they did not know when a policyholder had died, were not properly paying out life insurance benefits to beneficiaries. Life insurance is designed to be a safety net to help settle a loved one’s final affairs, and I knew that something had to be done about the fact these companies were allowing their greed to cause good families harm. I challenged these companies in court, in the media and in front of the Florida Legislature, and our cause prevailed. We changed the law and made it clear that Florida will hold these companies accountable. That legislation led many other states to adopting similar measures.

I am proud of what I have fought for, accomplished and achieved. None of that could have been done without the dedicated team that has worked alongside me each day. They, and every Florida voter who has ever checked my name on a ballot, have put their faith, their finances, and their futures in my hands, and through that process I have become a better man.

As I transition to an institution of higher education, I hope to continue shaping the lives and learning opportunities of Florida’s future leaders. I look forward to spending more time with my family, and catching a few more baseball games. While words will never be adequate to express my gratitude, I say thank you and wish you all a fond farewell. And if you happen to see me at a ball game, please stop by and say hello.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops in Operation S.A.F.E.Tampa Next Week

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior – Are you at risk?
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors – Is this too good to be true?
  • How to Fight Identity Theft – Protect, Prevent, Police

Feedback from seniors who attended a Be Scam Smart workshop:

“Really learned a lot of valuable information.” - Jacksonville
“This was a very valuable topic of interest in our present world.” - Arcadia
“I live alone and learned a lot of helpful information that I can share with other seniors.” - Zephyrhills
“As a result of this presentation I will be more aware of what is going on around me.” - Pensacola
“The info was very good and eyes opened more than ever.” - Ormond Beach


Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshops:

Tuesday, May 9th – Tampa
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, Witt Community Room
3910 S. Manhattan Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611
160 Lake Avenue, Palm Coast, FL 32164
Register | Directions | Flyer

This Be Scam Smart workshop is brought to you in partnership with the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative.

Hillsborough County Public Library

Wednesday, May 10th – Tampa
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Carrollwood Cultural Center, The Studio
4537 Lowell Road, Tampa, FL 33618
Register | Directions | Flyer

This Be Scam Smart workshop is brought to you in partnership with the CMA Healthcare Agency and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

CMA Healthcare Agency and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
 

Please let us know if you would like to request a workshop in your area.

Florida's Bottom Line: Read All About It

Learn about Florida's economy from these four experts in the current edition of Florida's Bottom Line. CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine is focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic health.

Florida's Economic
Outlook

SEE PAGE 1

Changing Federal Red Tape & Florida
SEE PAGE 3

Paving the Path to Florida's Future
SEE PAGE 5

Florida's Business
Rent Tax

SEE PAGE 7

Sean Snaith, Ph.D., is the Director of UCF's Institute for Economic Competitiveness. Patrick McLaughlin, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce Dominic Calabro is the President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. real GDP grew 0.7 percent in first quarter of 2017
U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest sum of goods and services produced across the economy, grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real GDP is the value of all final goods and services produced by the nation’s economy adjusted for inflation. Florida’s 2016 real GDP growth will be released May 11.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Consumer sentiment decreased in April
Consumer sentiment among Floridians decreased in April from the record-high reading in March. Among the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased.
Source: UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research