February 23, 2018

Commentary: CRC proposal would hamstring lawmakers' ability to raise revenue [Orlando Sentinel]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

We all know what it takes to create strong communities — things like good roads, schools, health care and public safety — but right now, the Florida Legislature and the Constitution Revision Commission have advanced proposals that would take away the tools we need to make these things possible.

Specifically, they are moving to put on the November ballot a requirement that any new or increased state tax be approved by a supermajority, or two-thirds, vote in each legislative chamber. This idea might make for a good sound bite, but all it will do is make it harder to raise needed revenue in the Sunshine State. Florida’s families, local governments and economy will pay the price as they are starved of the investments that drive economic growth and widespread prosperity.

Florida already spends less per person on public services than any other state, and is one of only seven states in the nation with no personal income tax. Not surprisingly, our state consistently ranks near the bottom among indicators generally tied to health and well-being, like state mental-health investment, rate of insured residents and availability of affordable housing.

The new supermajority rule would apply during good times and bad. When the next economic downturn comes, as it surely will, lawmakers would likely be forced to cut vital public services as they did during the Great Recession.

Economic crises are not the only type of emergency that future legislatures might have to respond to quickly with additional spending. It was only five months ago that Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida; more recently, Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, forcing many families to relocate to the Sunshine State.

Read more on orlandosentinel.com

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