Fiscal Ranking

Florida ranks 4th among the US states for its fiscal health.

Federal Regulatory Impact Ranking

In 2015, Florida experienced the 45th highest impact of federal regulations.

Health Care Ranking

Florida ranks near the middle in the Healthcare Openness and Access Project Index.

Number of Certificate-of-Need Laws

CON laws, which require government permission before adding, expanding, or improving healthcare facilities, have failed to meet any of their stated goals.

+1.62 B
Rainy Day Fund

Florida has $1.62 billion more than it needs to weather a recession of average severity. 


41 (Tied) | Florida

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20 
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10 
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 2/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Florida law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. Such a law allows state officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points, because the law is silent as to whether local officials can lease airspace above local roads and local property.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Florida law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Task Force or Program Office: State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Florida law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: Florida does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: Florida is in the fourth quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving two out of five points.

These factors make Florida tied (with Maine) for the 41st most drone-friendly state in the country.

The Regressive Effects of Regulations in Florida

April, 2022


Regulations have unintended consequences, and these consequences can disproportionately affect low-income households. For example, more regulations are associated with higher consumer prices, fewer small business start-ups, and fewer new jobs. Recent research also shows that a greater regulatory burden is associated with increased poverty rates and higher levels of income inequality.

Within the state of Florida, federal regulation growth since 1997 is associated with 423,447 more people living in poverty and a 3.75 percent increase in income inequality.


Given the growth of federal regulations affecting Florida residents and businesses between 1997 and 2017, we estimate that regulation growth over this period is associated with an additional 423,447 people living in poverty in 2019 (2,681,832 actually in poverty versus 2,258,385 if there had been no regulation growth) and an increase in the poverty rate of 2.01 percentage points (12.7 percent actually living in poverty versus 10.69 percent if there had been no regulation growth).

The Mercatus Center’s Federal Regulation and State Enterprise (FRASE) index measures the effective federal regulatory burden upon a state (defined as “the degree of impact federal regulations have on a state’s economy relative to federal regulations’ impact on the national economy”). Using the FRASE index, researchers have found that states with a higher incidence of federal regulations tend to exhibit higher poverty rates. Specifically, a 10 percent increase in the effective federal regulatory burden upon a state corresponds to about a 2.5 percent increase in the poverty rate.

From 1997 to 2017 (the period for which FRASE estimates are available), the effective federal regulatory burden upon Florida increased by 75 percent and is associated with an increase in Florida’s poverty rate of 18.75 percent. As of 2019, the overall poverty rate in Florida stood at 12.7 percent. If the increase in the regulatory burden had not occurred, our research suggests that the poverty rate could have been as low as 10.69 percent in 2019.8 Though this may not seem like a large difference in relative terms, it would have amounted to 423,447 fewer people living in poverty in Florida in 2019.


We estimate that the accumulation of federal regulation affecting Florida residents and businesses between 1997 and 2017 is associated with a 3.75 percent increase in income inequality.

Using the FRASE index, researchers have found that states with a higher incidence of federal regulations also have higher levels of income inequality. Specifically, a 10 percent increase in the effective federal regulatory burden upon a state corresponds to an approximate 0.5 percent increase in the state’s Gini coefficient (the most commonly used measure of income inequality).

In view of the link between rising poverty and federal regulations, the increase in income inequality in Florida is not surprising. From 1997 to 2017, the effective federal regulatory burden upon Florida increased by 75 percent, and that increase is associated with a 3.75 percent increase in Florida’s level of income inequality. As of 2018, Florida was the 2nd most unequal state in terms of income inequality (1 = most inequality, 50 = least inequality).

Don't Hamper Disaster Recovery

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Stefanie Haeffele

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma causing historic flooding and flood-related damage, the National Flood Insurance Program will play an integral role in the recovery process. Residents seeking insurance payouts through the flood insurance program often rely on this source of funding for repairing and rebuilding their homes and businesses. Unfortunately, this program has been falling short in two key ways:

The National Flood Insurance Program was established in 1968 and is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program aims to provide affordable flood insurance to property owners in flood zones and to encourage the management and mitigation of flood-prone areas. However, the program has short-changed the insured in the past and is running out of money, making it an unreliable source of assistance for Americans impacted by disasters.

Second, when a home floods, the owner generally faces three options: relocate, rebuild the same house or rebuild a more flood-resistant house. The program aims to encourage rebuilding more flood-resistant housing, yet in practice, it actually encourages rebuilding the same house in the same flood-prone area.

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Stefanie Haeffele on Bloomberg Radio

Stefanie Haeffele discusses disaster recovery after Hurricane Irma in Florida.

Stefanie Haeffele
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Sep 11, 2017
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Getting an Accurate Picture of State Pension Liabilities

December 13, 2010

State governments have reported unfunded pension liabilities—the difference between what plans have promised to pay public workers and the assets set aside to pay out these benefits—of $452 billion as of June 2009.  Estimates place the shortfall in local plans at an additional $190 billion. These reported figures, however, severely underestimate the pension obligations governments owe to public workers. To measure pension obligations accurately, state and local governments must institutionalize the correct measurement of pension liabilities: the market value of liabilities (MVL), which properly accounts for the guaranteed nature of public pension benefits.

Recognizing the unsustainable future of current public pension plans, many state legislatures are considering pension reform. Unfortunately, most proposed reforms are insufficient to fill the funding gap because government accounting standards continue to underestimate the true debt.

Spending Restraint in Florida

September 23, 2010

Following the economic collapse of 2008, almost every state in the Union faced a significant budget shortfall. Florida was no exception. Yawning budget gaps plagued the state budget in 2009 and 2010. Though the recession was the proximate cause of the gaps, decades of overspending spawned Florida’s fiscal woes. Furthermore, the predicament was avoidable. If Florida had held spending constant for the last 20 years while adjusting for inflation and population growth, it would have avoided its 2009 budget gap. Moreover, the state can avoid future budgetary problems by restraining the growth of spending, permitting Floridians greater economic freedom, and adopting stronger balanced-budget requirements.

Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida

November 15, 2008

View article.

Skarbek, David. "Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida." Cato Journal 28, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 73-82.

Federal, state, and county governments accept the argument that occupational licensing protects consumers and improves their welfare. This argument stands in stark contrast to the apparent rent seeking that occurs with licensing. In return for gains from state-created barriers to entry, coalitions built along occupational lines support politicians.

This article will show that government action in times of crisis is often inconsistent with its rhetoric. Licensing is typically justified on the grounds that market mechanisms will not mitigate the problems associated with asymmetric information. In the wake of Hurricanes Frances and Katrina, Florida reduced restrictions on construction contractors, yet in times of crises informational asymmetries are more likely to be problematic. By examining the volume of work completed, I find little evidence of significant detrimental effects from the policy change. Given the relative success of reducing restrictions and the government's explicit recognition of licensing's limiting effect on the availability of roofers, reform of licensing, at least to the extent done in crisis, should be adopted permanently.