September 27, 2018

Local Governments in Florida Would Struggle to Provide Critical Services Under Amendment 5

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.

Restricting state lawmakers’ ability to raise revenue will negatively impact cities, towns and counties across Florida

LAKE MARY, FLWhen Florida lawmakers are unable to raise revenue to support communities, the burden then shifts to local governments to either raise local taxes and fees or make cuts to needed programs and services, like water and sewage, roads, parks and beaches. A new policy brief from the Florida Policy Institute examines the impact that Amendment 5 would have on cash-strapped counties and municipalities.

On November 6, voters in Florida will decide on a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of the state Legislature to raise state revenue, taxes and fees or eliminate tax breaks and loopholes.

State support is crucial for large-scale infrastructure, transportation and affordable housing projects. The Institute found that in 2016, the state provided $2.8 billion to counties. Florida’s support for municipalities totaled $1.5 billion that same year.

The brief also shows that rural counties would be disproportionately impacted by any cuts to state support; on average, state dollars account for 17 percent of total revenue in rural areas — in some cases reaching up to 40 percent — as opposed to 6.6 percent in metropolitan counties.

Special interests have falsely branded Amendment 5 as a taxpayer-protection measure, when it’s the exact opposite. The measure would enshrine tax breaks and loopholes in state law that benefit the wealthy and large corporations, while endangering state support that localities depend on to meet the needs of our families and small businesses,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Institute.

Two other measures on the 2018 ballot would directly impact local governments’ ability to raise revenue. Amendment 1 would increase the homestead property tax exemption for homes valued at $100,000 or more by raising the portion of a home’s value that can be exempted from property taxes, while Amendment 2 would make the 10 percent cap on non-homestead property assessment increases permanent. If adopted, these measures would cost Florida counties and cities hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

“State and local lawmakers must have the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of their communities, whether that be in the wake of an economic recession or following an environmental disaster. Amendments 1, 2 and 5 would take away that ability and put investment in families in jeopardy,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute’s mission is to advance state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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