If the wording of Amendment 5 is incorporated into the Florida Constitution, the 2018 Florida Legislature will have succeeded in making it more difficult for themselves and their successors to raise state taxes and fees.
The proposed amendment would require a two-thirds majority vote by both the state House and state Senate in order to approve a hike in taxes or fees. The idea was introduced by Gov. Rick Scott and legislators acted to have it included on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Republicans almost universally support the idea and a majority of Democrats oppose it, though several Democrats voted with the majority to help get the amendment on the ballot. The amendment proposal requires 60 percent voter support to pass.
“It doesn’t affect local taxes or any local jurisdictional things, local governments can do what they need to do,” said state Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin. “I just think from the state perspective, if we’re going to raise someone’s taxes and fees, a majority like this just makes sense.”
Democrats contend it isn’t fair for a sitting legislative body to tie the hands of future elected officials. Quoted in several publications as being against the measure, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, has questioned Republican motives for pushing the amendment.
“It’s very clear that they’re getting ready for when they’re out of power, and trying to stack the deck now as much as possible. Everything we have proposed hinges on our ability to defeat this,” Gillum has said. “What they want to do is pass this measure now so they’ll be able to jam a Democratic governor by forcing votes that will require Republican participation. We have to do everything we can to make sure this does not go through.”
If Amendment 5 passes, it would insure a tax or fee could not be increased via a party-line vote, unless one party holds 27 of 40 seats in the state Senate and 80 of 120 seats in the state House. Republicans have controlled a majority of seats in both chambers for several years. The GOP did not hold a two-thirds majority in 2018.