At the beginning of the 2018 state legislative session, Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) began pitching an extensive taxpayer protection initiative to state lawmakers, businesses, and Florida voters that would place future limits on the ability of the state legislature to raise taxes and fees.
The Constitutional Amendment, which recently passed the House of Representative by a vote of 80-29, would amend Article 7, Section 19 of the Florida Constitution to require a two thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, in both houses of the Florida Legislature to increase or impose any tax or fee on Florida residents and businesses. If also adopted by the state Senate, the amendment will be put to Florida voters in a ballot initiative requiring 60% of the vote to pass this November.
In pitching his initiative, Scott recently stated that it “will force leaders to contemplate living within their means rather than taking the easy way out and just sticking it to the public by raising taxes on families and job creators.”
If the initiative is successful, Florida would join more than a dozen other states with similar limitations on the ability of a legislature to raise taxes without a supermajority vote. However, Scott’s initiative goes one step further than similar initiatives by applying the supermajority requirements to fee increases in addition to tax increases. This component is crucial, as lawmakers in states such as California have used the “fee” loophole to bypass supermajority requirements to implement relentless waves of tax increases on their states’ residents.
Scott’s momentous initiative continues to pick up broad support and key endorsements across Florida. The initiative is also supported by leading public officials such as Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, and organizations such as National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and Americans for Prosperity.
Scott’s initiative is the culmination of a 7-year record of taxpayer relief, job-creation, and economic growth. Since taking office, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott have cut taxes by more than $7 billion and Florida’s private sector has created almost 1.5 million jobs.
ATR strongly supports Scott’s historic initiative to create a permanent protection against unnecessary and disastrous tax increases to continue Florida’s impressive record of job creation and economic growth and urges the Senate to follow the House by voting to place the issue upon the ballot this year.