FINANCE & TAXATION/TABOR
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports a state fiscal structure that is equitable in its distribution of the tax responsibility and responsive to public needs. The League promotes equitable tax policy reform that provides adequate funding for state services. The League supports the repeal of tax exemptions that do not fulfill a public purpose.
The League believes local governments should have available a variety of options for generating revenues to meet local needs. Florida’s revenue structure is inadequate to meet the needs of Floridians. The Legislature already substantially cut the public education budget and many other services that are essential to our state’s long-term prosperity. The federal stimulus monies awarded to Florida have postponed but not solved some of the financial problems facing the state, including those in education funding.
In the 2008 and 2009 legislative sessions, the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) constitutional amendment was introduced. The League strongly opposed the amendment that would require budget cuts in both good and poor economic times because revenues above a formula-based limit could not be spent. It would mean that state services would constantly face budget cuts and deteriorate in most years. During the 2008 session, the proposal was voted down in the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. While it passed the House, it died in the Senate. Unfortunately, it arose again during the 2009 session. While it passed through one committee in the Senate, it was postponed four times in a second committee where it finally died. In the House, it also died in committee. While a TABOR bill surfaced briefly during the 2010 session, it was not brought up in committee.
Introduced during the 2011 legislative session and dubbed "SmartCap" by Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Senate Joint Resolution 958 is a joint resolution for a ballot amendment that will come before voters in 2012 as Amendment 3. It proposes to amend the state Constitution to replace the existing state revenue limit based on personal income growth with a new revenue limit based on a formula of change in population and inflation. It would require excess revenue be placed in the budget stabilization fund, used to support education or be returned to taxpayers. It allows the Legislature to increase the revenue limitation by a supermajority vote or to put a proposed increase before the voters. It would first apply in fiscal year 2014-15.
LWVF will support tax legislation that:
• Focuses more on ability to pay;
• Does not jeopardize local services;
• Addresses Florida’s infrastructure deficit;
• Enhances Floridian’s quality of life; or
• Removes unfair tax exemptions that hinder the state’s or local governments’ ability to serve Floridians.
LWVF will oppose tax legislation that:
• Does not provide true, fair tax relief to Floridians; or
• Further burdens the state’s or local governments’ ability to serve Floridians.
LWVF will support legislation that:
• Requires periodic review of all current tax exemptions and the repeal of those that do not serve a public purpose.
• Provides for the collection of taxes on Internet sales.
• Levies taxes on corporations earning money in the state but reporting the income in other states.
LWVF will not support legislation that:
• Continues the status quo for tax exemptions.
SEND a letter-to-the-editor for publication to your local news outlet expressing your opposition to the TABOR ballot amendment.
DONATE to the League of Women Voters of Florida Advocacy Fund to help us campaign against the TABOR ballot amendment.
For more information about SJR 958, review the League's white paper "Vote No on SJR 958: A Proven Failure," the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' white paper "SJR 958 Florida TABOR/'SmartCap': A Ticking Time Bomb," and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' report "Florida 'TABOR' Proposal SJR 958 Would Endanger Education, Public Safety, and Infrastructure."
VIDEO: The Real Story Behind TABOR by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities