January 26, 2018

Statement on Florida House Passage of Resolution That Would Require Two-Thirds Vote on State Tax or Fee Increase

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.

The Florida House of Representatives yesterday passed HRJ 7001, a resolution that, if agreed to by the Senate, would put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote by each house of the Legislature to approve any new state tax or fee, increase an existing state tax or fee or eliminate any state tax expenditure. Adding this provision to the constitution would severely limit Florida’s ability to invest in public education, mental health care, affordable housing, roads and bridges, parks, beaches and workforce training programs.

Florida is already a low-tax state, but it also lags behind in investments that meet the needs of its citizens and drive economic growth to benefit all Floridians. By way of example, Florida ranks 50th in the nation for its level of support for public services.

Any measure that makes it more difficult to change these dynamics is a prescription for a poor future for Florida. Placing such a proposal in the state constitution handcuffs us to bad policy.

All of the above applies in good times.  During the next economic downturn, it would be even harder to raise revenues, and make it more likely that state lawmakers consider further cuts to public services. Florida can’t afford to fall even further behind.

The state currently sees billions in foregone revenue each year through tax credits and expenditures.  The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) detailed this ‘silent spending,’ which totals $18 billion in Fiscal Year 2017-18, in a recent report. Some of these expenditures date back to the 1940s, and most live on undisturbed by evaluation of what benefits, if any, they may provide to Florida’s economy.  The state Legislature should institute a system to periodically examine them, not make it more difficult to sunset those expenditures that do not serve a good public purpose.

For the reasons discussed above, FPI strongly urges the Florida Senate to reject the joint resolution.

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