NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 8, 2009

There are many things public officials probably shouldn't do during a severe recession, like giving a dozen top aides hefty raises while urging a rise in property taxes or jacking up already exorbitant hurricane-insurance premiums or sending an army of highly paid lobbyists to push for a steep hike in electricity rates.  But no one seems to have told the leaders in Florida about them.  No wonder the Sunshine State is experiencing its first net emigration of people since World War II, says Tim Padgett, of Yahoo News.

South Florida -- consisting of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties -- has lost 27,400 residents from 2008 to 2009, while the state has lost 58,000.  While that's not a mass exodus for a state of 18 million, it's the first net outflow in 63 years for a state that considers itself the new California:

  • Homeowners, especially in Broward and Miami-Dade, have experienced increases of 15 percent or more on their preliminary property taxes.
  • That's sizable in a low-income region where the median property-tax bill is already some $3,000, and it's doubly frustrating given that property values have slid by some 25 percent during Florida's housing bust.
  • Residents have barely digested the recent news that their hurricane-insurance premiums, which can top $5,000 a year for most South Florida homes, will rise 10 percent a year for the next three years, and their public utility, Florida Power & Light (FPL), is lobbying the state for a 30 percent rate hike.

Granted, most local governments often have to raise taxes when they're staring at fiscal craters, but the less than sunny mood in Miami-Dade is made darker by years of profligate mismanagement.  If Miami and Florida officials can't get their acts together, they can probably expect even lower head counts in the years to come, says Padgett.

Source: Tim Padgett, "Florida Exodus: Rising Taxes Drive Out Residents," Yahoo News, September 3, 2009.


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