Hurricanes Irma, Maria could cause Florida budget shortfall

The Florida Legislature finds itself coping with not solely the aftermath of Hurricane Irma but in addition the impression of Hurricane Maria.

  • Irma injury might value between $25.four billion and $forty five.9 billion
  • Economists forecast a price range shortfall of $one hundred forty five.1 million
  • Puerto Ricans fleeing Maria injury might add to shortfall

State economist Amy Baker advised the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that injury from Irma is forecast to be anyplace from $25.four to $forty five.9 billion.

Baker stated the state’s Workplace of Financial and Demographic Analysis arrived at that determine by taking the injury prices from Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Wilma in 2005 and forecasting what these would have been had these storms occurred this yr. At $26.5 billion in injury, Andrew was the fourth costliest hurricane to hit america.

The state has already allotted $141.7 million in restoration prices, with the most important expenditure being $36 million for particles removing. Baker hopes to have a revised quantity together with revenues that might be generated from rebuilding when the Legislature’s common 60-day session begins Jan. 9.

Earlier than Irma, the state was forecast to have a $fifty two million surplus. Due to the hurricane and extra prices to the state’s pension fund, the state has a shortfall of $one hundred forty five.1 million.

The forecast drawn up by Baker and different economists additionally exhibits that the state might be dealing with a $1.6 billion shortfall in three years largely due to elevated public faculty enrollment, rising Medicaid prices and state employee advantages.

“We’re already at a place of three unfavourable years, and revenues are inadequate to satisfy projected wants,” Baker stated.

Officers are additionally persevering with to evaluate how the inflow of Puerto Rico residents displaced by Hurricane Maria will have an effect on the state. Greater than 32,000 individuals have arrived in Florida since Oct. three, with extra on the best way.

Almost one million Florida residents are Puerto Rican, in line with the U.S. Census Bureau. Orange County has 17.7 % of the state’s Puerto Rican inhabitants, adopted by Miami-Dade (10.6) and Hillsborough counties (10.5)

Democrats within the Legislature have referred to as on Gov. Rick Scott to open extra catastrophe aid facilities and assist these arriving within the state to get faster entry to Medicaid and different help packages.

Kerri Wyland, a spokeswoman for Scott, stated the governor didn’t meet with President Trump throughout his journey to Washington on Wednesday and Thursday. However Scott did meet with members of Florida’s congressional delegation and Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón to debate efforts to help Puerto Rico, Wyland stated.

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