Vote for smaller government in 2012

You haven’t heard much about this little doozy in traditional media outlets, mostly because the mainstream media wishes this creature had never been born. They hope they can strangle it by the time you have chance to vote for it in 2012.

The Florida legislature has given you, the voter, the chance of a lifetime: You can vote to force future state governments to put a lid on state spending. What a novel idea. But one that causes any self-respecting liberal to drip with anger over the whole notion.

Our political leaders should have sense enough to know when enough is enough, but sad to say we cannot count on most of them to put the quietus on eternal tax increases. This year, the legislature came through. They have given Florida voters a chance to mandate future Florida governments to pass a “Live-Within-Our-Means” budget.

Here’s what happened. In 1994, Florida passed a law which said its budget couldn’t grow faster than the sum of all its residents’ income. This was supposed to control the budget, but that’s not what happened. This kind of income based formula only works in low income states like South Carolina and Louisiana. So, Florida’s budget ballooned, and since then our spending grew 30% faster than our ability to pay.

We needed a more effective way to cap government spending, and this year the legislature found it: They agreed that the Florida Constitution should be amended to replace the existing state revenue limitation based on personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on changes in inflation and population.

If the voters pass it next year by 60%, the limitation would first apply in 2014. Any revenue collected in excess of the cap would be deposited into a Budget Stabilization Fund, used to support public schools by reducing property taxes used to fund education. Or, it would be returned to taxpayers.

The limitation may be over-ridden by a super majority vote of the legislature, to remedy emergencies that may arise.

This is genuine reform. We really need a cap like this in Florida to stay competitive, and we can’t compete if we keep raising taxes at a lickety-split rate. We need a constitutional safeguard against the ambitious designs of political insiders, who seek evermore of our tax dollars for whatever political purpose du jour they may concoct.

But look out, Floridians. Your friendly local newspaper may run the full-court press to convince you to vote against it, with a witch’s brew of clever reasons their editorial boards will cook up. Voters need to storm the battlements and get this passed, so that politicians cannot feed the hungry tax tiger within them that yearns to break out.

We have to stop the tax-and-spenders before they binge again. This is the way to do it.


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John R. Smith


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