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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

As your CFO and a member of the Florida Cabinet, one of my responsibilities is to oversee the Division of Bond Finance. The division, lead by Director Ben Watkins, has been working diligently to search for every penny of savings by refunding outstanding state debt to take advantage of record low interest rates. Since January 2011, the Division has refinanced nearly $2.9 billion in outstanding debt, resulting in a debt savings of $536 million for Florida taxpayers. Refinancing outstanding debt to lower interest rates is possible because of the state’s high credit ratings and serves as another example of how fiscal discipline helps keep money in the pockets of hard-working Floridians.

At the Cabinet meeting last week, Director Watkins reported that the division sold more than $301 million in State Board of Education Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) refunding bonds. The refinancing of these PECO bonds reduces our state debt liability. In other words, it reduces Florida’s future debt payments and saves us money long-term, just as you would refinance your home to receive a better mortgage rate. The state successfully lowered the interest rate on these bonds from 4.97 percent to 2.76 percent, which is expected to result in savings of approximately $85.1 million or 19.9 percent of the principle amount being refunded. This is the largest refunding savings in the past 20 years!

Although the important work of this Division remains mostly out of the spotlight, I commend Director Watkins and his team for their hard work on behalf of Florida’s taxpayers.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

'The Golden Rules for Your Golden Years'

In March, CFO Jeff Atwater launched On Guard for Seniors to help educate Florida’s seniors about financial and insurance issues On Guard for Seniorsimpacting our state’s fastest-growing population. This initiative was designed to give seniors the most up-to-date information about annuities, reverse mortgages, long-term care insurance and identity theft and explains key terms, outlines important questions to ask and provides educational videos of how some common insurance and financial products work.

Workshop at the Villages this weekAs part of the On Guard for Seniors initiative, CFO Atwater will be holding free workshops across Florida, titled “The Golden Rules for Your Golden Years,” to help seniors and their caregivers better familiarize themselves with products, procedures and the scams that are directed at the senior demographic. The first workshop was held on Wednesday in the Villages with nearly 170 participating. Additional workshops will be held:

  • Wednesday, August 22, at 9 a.m.
    Carrie Robinson Center, 2990 Edison Ave., Ft. Myers, Fla. 33916
  • Thursday, August 23, at 9 a.m.
    Hilton Garden Inn, 8270 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Fla. 34243
  • Friday, August 24, at 9 a.m.
    Sunshine Senior Center, 330 5th Street N., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701
  • Tuesday, August 28, at 9 a.m.
    The Mae Volen Center, 1515 W. Palmetto Road, Boca Raton, Fla. 33486

For more information, visit, or contact the Division of Consumer Services at (850) 413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-My-FL-CFO (693-5236).

Legal Issues Faced by Small Business

CFO Atwater is partnering with The Jim Moran Institute to host the 2012 Small Business Leadership Forum in Tampa on Sept. 6-7, 2012. The forum will provide access to resources and information to positively impact your small business bottom line. Explore the Forum website to find featured speakers, panel topics and how to connect via social media before the event. The forum is also an opportunity to hear directly from Florida’s small-business community to help Tallahassee improve our state’s business climate.

Practical advice will be given for small business owners on dealing with problem employees, with topics including practical and legal information and how to create policies and procedures to reduce the number and degree of future problems. Additionally, the session will cover the most common legal issues faced by small business owners, introduce strategies positioned to mitigate the impact of those issues on the functioning of the business, and present legal resources available to small business owners. Other legal topics covered will include forms of intellectual property protection. Small Business Leadership Seminar 2012

Presenters for this panel will be Mark Logan, Of-Counsel Partner, and Robert Sniffen, Managing Partner, of Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. Mr. Logan's practice includes providing counsel to clients on corporate compliance, transactional and employment matters. Logan also represents clients in a wide variety of administrative, regulatory and legislative matters involving all aspects of Florida government. Robert Sniffen is the managing partner of Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., whose practice encompasses all areas of labor and employment law. He is board certified by the Florida Bar in labor and employment law. Mr. Sniffen represents employers statewide in federal and state court and before administrative tribunals, and also provides advice to employers regarding personnel and workplace issues.

Read about the forum, its agenda and registration at

News of Interest

Business Week: Florida Space Coast Brightens on Jobs Increase

Florida Today: XCOR Aerospace landing in Florida

Sporting News: Dale Earnhardt Jr. now co-owner of Florida auto dealerships

Tampa Bay Business Journal: Florida merchandise exports show an increase

Miami Herald: Made in South Florida: Local economy gets a boost

WEAR TV: Florida farmers use new tools

Sun-Sentinel: Pet boarding business booms in South Florida

Florida's Bottom LineFlorida's Bottom Line

This issue of Florida’s Bottom Line focuses on Florida’s small business community and how to provide a stable economic environment so that we can continue to help businesses flourish and expand.

The companion website features business news updates and Florida By the Numbers, a collection of key statistics illustrating important changes in Florida’s economy over the past month. The latest data is shown on topics such as consumer confidence, unemployment rate, new foreclosure activity and Florida's leading, stock and retail index graphs. Updates are made as new stats become available.