State Financial Operations

Florida law requires that financial operations of the State be maintained through the General Revenue Fund, trust funds, and the Budget Stabilization Fund administered by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The majority of State tax revenues are deposited in the General Revenue Fund. Trust funds consist of monies which are segregated for a specified purpose. State monies are disbursed by the CFO via warrants or other orders pursuant to appropriations acts. The Governor and CFO are responsible for ensuring that sufficient revenues are collected to meet appropriations and that no deficits occur in State funds.

The State Constitution mandates the creation and maintenance of a Budget Stabilization Fund, in an amount not less than 5% and not more than 10 percent of the last fiscal year’s General Revenue Fund net revenue collections. Monies in the Budget Stabilization Fund may be transferred to the General Revenue Fund to offset a deficit or to provide emergency funding. Monies in this fund are constitutionally prohibited from being obligated or otherwise committed for any other purpose. Any withdrawals from the Budget Stabilization Fund must be restored from general revenues in five equal annual installments, commencing in the third fiscal year after the expenditure, unless the legislature establishes a different restoration schedule.

The State Constitution prohibits the legislature from appropriating nonrecurring general revenue funds for recurring purposes that exceed three percent of the general revenue funds estimated to be available. The legislature may override this prohibition by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each chamber. Nonrecurring general revenue funds are funds that are not expected to be available on an ongoing basis.

The State budget must be kept in balance from current revenues each State fiscal year—July 1- June 30—and the State may not borrow to fund governmental operations. Revenues in the General Revenue Fund which exceed amounts needed to fund appropriations or for transfers to the Budget Stabilization Fund are maintained as "unallocated general revenues."

The State’s budgetary process is an integrated, continuous system of planning, evaluation and controls. State law requires that, no later than each September 15, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission prepare a long-range State financial outlook. The outlook includes major workloads and revenue estimates and recommends fiscal strategies to assist the legislature in making budget decisions. State agencies are also required to develop goals and objectives consistent with the State long-range planning document.

Individual State agencies prepare and submit appropriation requests to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budgeting (OPB), generally no later than October 15 of the year preceding legislative consideration. From recommended appropriations and revenue estimates, the Governor submits a recommended budget to the legislature. The House and Senate each adopt their respective versions of the appropriations bill and any differences are worked out by a conference committee. The conference committee adopts a committee version of the appropriations bill which is then voted on. After passage of the appropriations bill, the bill is sent to the Governor, who has seven days (15 days if the Legislature has adjourned or taken a recess of more than 30 days) after the bill is presented to him to sign or exercise his line item veto power before the bill becomes law.

The State has completed the budget for the next fiscal year prior to the end of the current fiscal year. Only one time in at least the last 60 years was the budget not completed prior to the start of the fiscal year. In 1992, the budget was implemented on the first day of the fiscal year. In this instance the payment of all financial obligations and the delivery of services occurred normally.

With almost all of the State’s debt paid semi-annually, debt service payments generally occur at intervals which provide additional time before a payment is due if a budget was not adopted before the start of the fiscal year. Debt service payments due at the beginning of a fiscal year are paid from appropriations of the prior fiscal year.

In the event a budget was not adopted before the beginning of the fiscal year, the legislature and the Governor could authorize appropriations for debt service even if they did not agree on other appropriations.

State law provides for consensus estimating conferences to develop official economic and demographic data and revenue forecasts for use in planning and budgeting. Each conference develops estimates within its area of expertise by unanimous consent of the conference principals. The four principals of the estimating conference are professional staff of the Governor’s Office, Senate, House of Representatives and the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR). Once an estimating conference is convened, an official estimate does not exist until a new consensus is reached.

Consensus revenue estimating conferences are generally held three times each year to estimate revenue collections for the next fiscal year based on current tax laws and administrative procedures. General State and national economic scenarios are agreed upon by the conference principals. Consensus estimating conferences are held in late summer or early fall to refresh estimates for the Long Range Financial Outlook (Article III, Section 19(c)1, Florida Constitution), to establish a forecast for the Governor’s budget recommendations, and in the spring to determine the revenues available for appropriation during the legislative session. Conferences may reconvene at any time recommendations may no longer be valid. Conferences are also held during legislative session to determine the fiscal impact of proposed tax law changes, and after each legislative session to review changes in tax legislation and to amend official conference recommendations accordingly.

There are currently ten estimating conferences formally identified in statute: Economic, Demographic, Revenue, Education, Criminal Justice, Social Services, Workforce, Early Learning, Self-Insurance, and Florida Retirement System Actuarial Assumptions.

The rate of growth in State revenues in a given fiscal year is limited to no more than the average annual growth rate in personal income over the previous five years. Revenues have never exceeded the limitation. Revenues collected in excess of the limitation are to be deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund unless two-thirds of the members of both houses of the legislature vote to raise the limit. The revenue limit is determined by multiplying the average annual growth rate in personal income over the previous five years by the maximum amount of revenue permitted under the cap for the previous year. State revenues include taxes, licenses, fees, and charges for services imposed by the legislature on individuals, businesses, or agencies outside of State government as well as proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets. State revenues subject to the limitation do not include lottery receipts returned as prizes; balances carried forward from prior years; proceeds from the sale of goods (e.g. land, buildings); funds pledged for debt service on State bonds; State funds used to match federal money for Medicaid (partially exempt); charges imposed on the local governmental level; receipts of the Hurricane Catastrophe Trust Fund; and revenues required to be imposed by amendment to the Constitution after July 1, 1994. The revenue limitation may be adjusted to reflect the transfer of responsibility for funding governmental functions between the State and other levels of government.

After the appropriations bill becomes law, OPB prepares monthly status reports comparing actual revenue receipts to the estimates on which appropriations were based. This constant cash flow monitoring system enables the Governor and the CFO to ensure that revenues collected will be sufficient to meet appropriations.

All balances of General Revenue Fund appropriations for operations in each fiscal year (except appropriations for fixed capital outlay) expire on the last day of such fiscal year. Amounts identified by agencies as incurred obligations which have not been disbursed as of June 30 are carried forward, with unused amounts expiring on September 30. Because capital projects are often funded on a multi-year basis, with the full appropriation being made in the first year even though payments are actually made over multiple years, unused appropriations for fixed capital outlay revert on February 1 of the second fiscal year.

Appropriations are maximum amounts available for expenditure in the current fiscal year and are contingent upon the collection of sufficient revenues. The Governor and the CFO are responsible for ensuring that revenues collected will be sufficient to meet appropriations and that no deficit occurs in any state fund. A determination that a deficit has occurred or will occur can be made by either the Governor or the CFO after consultation with the revenue estimating conference. If the Governor fails to certify a deficit, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate may do so after consultation with the revenue estimating conference. A determination made by the CFO is reported to the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and subsequently to the Legislative Budget Commission for further action, if the deficit is not certified within 10 days after the report by the CFO. Within 30 days after determining that a budget shortfall will occur, the Governor is required to develop a plan of action to eliminate the budget shortfall for the executive branch and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is required to develop a plan of action for the judicial branch.

Budget shortfalls of less than 1.5% of the money appropriated from the General Revenue Fund during a fiscal year are resolved by the Governor for the executive branch and by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the judicial branch, with the approval of the Legislative Budget Commission, subject to statutory guidelines and directives contained in the appropriations act. The statutory guidelines include a requirement that all branches of government are generally required to accept a proportional budget reduction. The Governor for the executive branch and the Chief Justice for the judicial branch may reduce appropriations by placing them in mandatory reserve, or withhold appropriations by placing them in budget reserve, in order to prevent deficits or implement legislative directives in the General Appropriations Act.

If the revenue estimating conference projects a shortfall in the General Revenue Fund in excess of 1.5% of the moneys appropriated from the General Revenue Fund during a fiscal year, the shortfall must be resolved by the legislature. Any available State funds may be used in eliminating shortfalls in the General Revenue Fund. Additionally, the legislature may eliminate a shortfall by reducing appropriations.

Florida has an integrated general ledger accounting system which provides online monitoring of budget commitments by individual agency units. This system prevents agencies from overcommitting available funds.

Each State agency supported by any form of taxation, licenses, fees, imposts, or exactions must file with the CFO information necessary for preparation of the State’s annual financial statements. In addition, each such agency must prepare financial statements showing the position and results of agency operations as of June 30 for internal management purposes. The CFO is responsible for preparing the State’s combined annual financial report. The Auditor General conducts annual audits of all offices and agencies in the executive and judicial branches. Individual agency audits are made in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and governmental auditing standards as adopted by the State Board of Accountancy. In addition to the annual financial and compliance audits, performance audits are made to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.

Systems and procedures are in place to enable the State and its component units to comply in a timely manner with Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statements No. 45, Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for Post-employment Benefits Other Than Pensions.

Florida Annual Comprehensive Financial Report
The Office of the CFO annually compiles and publishes the Florida Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR may be accessed through the Department of Financial Services' web page at

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