Opinion

On Florida Amendment 3 – Vote yes

Fourth in a series

This amendment would replace the existing state revenue limitation with a more restrictive one. The existing limitation is based on “personal income growth.” Revenues of school districts and local governments would not be affected, since both the proposed and current limitations only apply to state government revenues. The amendment would:

Cap the growth in state spending at no more than the combined rate of inflation and population growth.

Place excess tax collections in reserve, to be used to fund public schools during lean years or to be refunded to taxpayers.

Prepare for future financial emergencies by allowing the Legislature to override the amendment with a super-majority three-fifths vote.

Government spending has grown much too quickly for too long, far outstripping the growth rate of the private sector. If this amendment had been in effect in the years before the recent recession, state spending would have grown more slowly than it actually did.

The old state limitation became ineffective because it didn’t limit the rapid increases in state spending, no matter which political party controlled the Legislature or held the governor’s office.

The formula for this new cap would allowFlorida’s government to keep pace with growth and cost increases for goods and services, while putting a lid on excessive revenues.

Why would state government need to grow more quickly than  inflation and population growth combined? It doesn’t. And this amendment would assure it won’t.

Under Amendment 3, state revenues collected in excess of the cap would have to be deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund until the fund reaches its maximum balance, which would be capped at 10 percent of the prior year’s general revenue collections. When the BSF reaches its cap, excess revenues would have to be used to reduce local school property taxes. If these taxes don’t apply, excess revenues would be refunded to taxpayers.

Opponents say putting a stricter cap on state spending would tie the hands of future legislators. However, since the Legislature can override the revenue limitation with a super-majority vote, this persuasively counters those concerns.

The Palm Beach Post, squealing predictably like a fat pig, has asserted itself on behalf of its brethren in the mainstream media, urging a no vote on this amendment.

Don’t listen to the hyperbole. Amendment 3 could have the effect of preparing state government to cope better with future economic recessions, by permitting the Legislature to temporarily suspend the revenue cap in extended financial emergencies.

Vote Yes on Amendment 3 if you want to reasonably curb state spending by placing a more effective cap on state government tax revenues, without hurting local schools.

See these related articles:

On Florida Amendment 1 – Vote yes

On Florida Amendment 4 – Vote yes

On Florida Amendment 5 – Vote yes

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John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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