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How long could Florida run on just its reserves? 16 days

The state’s rainy day fund is far less than most states, according to a recent study

The Sunshine State may not be ready for a rainy day.

The $1.4 billion that Florida holds in reserves is enough to operate state government for 16.2 days, according to a recent analysis by the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts.

That’s well below the state average of 23 days and less than half of where Florida was in 2002, when it could have run on its rainy day fund for nearly 33 days.

Florida is the orange line, the national state average is in blue. [Courtesy of Pew Charitable Trust]

Like most states, Florida is in a much better position than where it was in depths of the recession. Then, Florida’s reserves were so low, the state would have run out of money to pay for government services and programs — like Medicaid and state prisons and water monitoring and school vouchers — in less than a week.

But as Florida’s financial picture has improved, its reserve-to-spending ratio has not kept up with the rest of the country. As of last year, Florida ranked 36 in this metric.

Wyoming and Alaska would be set for a year if suddenly they needed to run on only reserves. Texas and California, the only states with more people than Florida, are ranked in the top five.