Onbehalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s 24,000 members in Florida, I urge youto support Senate Joint Resolution 958 (SJR 958), which would create a strongerlimitation on tax and spending increases in the state constitution. SJR 958,which recently passed the Senate, would provide vital protections for Floridataxpayers.
Forthe last few years, Florida’s families and small businesses have struggled toget by in this sluggish economy, with unemployment hovering around 12 percent.Meanwhile, the state government faces deficits between $3.6 billion and $4.6billion. Floridians are looking to their leaders for relief. By keeping taxeslow, making government expenditures manageable, and in the process allowing theeconomy to flourish, you can provide that relief. One of the best ways toensure that the burden on hard-working Floridians does not become unsustainableover the long run is to adopt a strong tax and expenditure limitation now.
Currently,state law restricts the annual growth in state revenue to a five-year rollingaverage of personal income. SJR 958 would stillallow the state’s budget to grow, but at an affordable rate:increases in inflation plus population from year to year. Any excess revenuecollected would be transferred to the budget stabilization fund until itreaches 10 percent of the prior year’s total budget. Receipts beyond this levelwould be devoted first to property tax relief, and then to other forms ofsavings for taxpayers. Additionally, in the event of an emergency, such as ahurricane, the Legislature could spend above the cap with approval from asupermajority of lawmakers or voters.
The fact ofthe matter is that limited government tends to keep tax rates low, which inturn gives private-sector companies the wherewithal to prosper and allows thequality of life to improve. Limited government also tends to be more stable andsupportable financially. Compare Indiana and Utah, which have weathered therecession reasonably well, to states such as Illinois and New York, which havenot. Constitutional limitations like SJR 958 encourage consensus-building overspending priorities as well as better oversight of existing programs, therebysparing citizens the hardship of constantly higher demands on theirpocketbooks. Nor should the concepts of SJR 958 be worrisome to lawmakers.Roughly two dozen states limit all or part of their budget increases toeconomic measurements such as inflation or personal income growth. Whenproperly structured – as they are in SJR 958 – such provisions are a help, nota hindrance, to fiscal policy.
Floridians arecounting you to look after their long-term interests. Nothing could be moreappropriate in doing so than to pass SJR 958.
State GovernmentAffairs Manager