“No Hidden Taxes in Florida’s Constitution”
Associated Industries of Florida
learned that next week, Senator Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach) will
present a bill to the Ethics and Elections committee advancing The Governor’s
“No Hidden Taxes in Florida’s Constitution” initiative reform proposal.
Bush proposes that any amendment which would impose a significant
cost on government would be required to create a new tax or fee as a
source of funding to implement it. A significant cost is considered
to be in excess of $1 million.
supermajority is already required
to approve taxes and fees raised outside
the legislative process. Because the Governor's proposal
would mandate a new tax or fee, an amendment would need to be approved by
2/3 of those voting in an election.
that a supermajority should approve taxes and fees raised outside of
the legislative process would be extended to new spending proposals
as well. Because the Governor’s proposal would mandate a new tax or
fee, the amendment would need to be approved by two-thirds of those
voting in an election.
Estimating Conference would assess whether the proposed amendment
has a significant cost and whether the proposed revenues would cover
that cost. This body is already charged with estimating revenues and
is in a position to perform this function for citizen initiatives.
fiscal impact statements are helpful, the Governor believes that creating
a revenue source protects the citizenry from unfunded and unpredictable
future costs and also protects the legislature’s ability to allocate
revenues generated by statute. If an amendment created a new tax
or fee that only generated a portion of the revenues needed for its
implementation, the legislature would only be required to implement
it to the extent that the new tax or fee paid for it. Any surplus revenues
generated would become general revenue.
proposal to mandate revenue sources for costly amendments comes in response
to the recent constitutional amendment reform debate and the recent
increase of constitutional amendments that become unfunded mandates
for Florida’s government. Spending by initiative is a major reason why
the State of California remains in fiscal crisis. Future amendments
in Florida could limit the legislature’s ability to debate and decide
which priorities most merit state funding.
proposal joins a list of reforms being considered by the House and three
joint resolutions put forth by the Senate.
Ethics and Elections committee is expected to convene Thursday, March
11 at 9:00 a.m.
to consider this proposed joint resolution.