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This is the fifth in a series of articles that will appear in the Monticello News or the Jefferson Journal. Each article examines one of the 13 proposed constitutional amendments that will be appearing on the Florida elections ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. This week's article takes a look at Amendment Five.
The fifth amendment Florida voters will be voting on in November could make it more difficult for the Florida Legislature to increase taxes and fees. If the amendment passes with 60 percent of the vote in November, any tax or fee increase on the state level, would require a two-thirds vote from the legislature. Currently, taxes and fees can be increased with a simple majority vote from the Florida Legislature. The exception to that is any increase to the corporate income tax above five percent, which currently requires a 60-percent vote from the legislature.
When the legislature was faced with putting the amendment proposal on the ballot, the vote was largely split along party lines. In the Florida House, 70 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted to put the proposal on the ballot. Twenty-nine Democrats and no Republicans voted against putting the proposal on the ballot. One Democrat did not vote.
In the Florida Senate, the results were similar. Twenty-two Republicans and three Democrats voted to put the measure before the voters of Florida. Twelve Democrat and one Republican State Senator voted against putting the amendment on the ballot.
Among the supporters of the proposed amendment are Gov. Rick Scott, State Rep. Tom Leek, State Rep. Dane Eagle and State Rep. Larry Metz, all Republicans.
“We should always make it much more difficult to raise taxes than it is to cut them. This amendment will secure and protect that legacy from future legislatures bent on raising taxes,” said Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
“I believe that taking a citizen's hard-earned money should not be taken lightly,” said State Rep. Tom Leek, a Republican from District 25, which includes Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach. Leek is a legislative sponsor of the amendment.
There are some who are opposed to the amendment proposal.
“I think this is a short-sighted idea. There's simply no need for this. Have some confidence in the people who will sit in these seats after you are gone,” said State Rep. Joseph Geller (D).
“Each and every session, there’s a different tension between taxes and revenue and on what we want to spend money on and what we don’t. I’m no smarter than someone who’s going to come here 10 years from now to vote. And so I don’t think I ought to have more power than that person who sits in this seat 10 years from now to vote. They should be able to vote up or down on tax policy, up and down on revenues, just like I do,” said State Rep. Sean Shaw (D).
In order to become law, this proposed amendment will have to pass with at least 60 percent of the vote in the November election. As with any proposed legislation, one should carefully weigh both sides of the argument and then make the wisest choice.