House approves measure to make it harder to raise taxes in future

In a move praised by Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida House on Thursday passed a measure that would make it harder for legislators to raise taxes and fees in the future.

The proposal was pushed through on an 80-29 vote. Under the bill, any future tax or fee hike would have to be approved by a supermajority at the state Legislature.

This rule would not apply to any increase imposed by a local government or school board, though.

Ahead of the House vote, lawmakers on the floor provided their rationale for support.

“I believe that taking a citizen’s hard-earned money should not be done lightly,” sponsor Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, said before the House voted 80-29 to approve the measure. “You either stand with the people whose money the government takes or you stand with the government that takes it.”

Scott, who is term-limited this year, has been a vocal proponent of the measure and has pushed the same proposal through the Constitutional Revision Commission, which is tasked with proposing changes to the state constitution every 20 years.

“When I first announced this proposal, Speaker Corcoran joined me to ensure we do all we can to let families and job creators keep more of their hard-earned money,” Scott said in a statement.

The proposal had the backing of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who said last year lawmakers “can’t just go willy-nilly” and raise the taxes of Floridians who are struggling to make ends meet.

“All too often as we see it sometimes on the national level, it’s easier to raise taxes or fees than it is to make tough decisions on what is right and best for the people,” Corcoran said.

The Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee is slated Monday to take up a version (SJR 1742) that would require three-fifths votes of the House and Senate before taxes could be increased in the future — a lower threshold than the House plan.

Some lawmakers expressed their apprehension for the measure, saying it might preempt power from future lawmakers.

“Each and every Session, there’s a different tension between taxes and revenue and what we want to spend money on and what we don’t,’’ Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat and candidate for attorney general, said. “I’m no smarter than someone who’s going to come here 10 years from now to vote. And so I don’t think I ought to have more power than that person that sits in this seat 10 years from now to vote. They should be able to vote up or down on tax policy, up and down on revenues, just like I do.”

If it passes the Legislature, the proposal would be placed on the November ballot for final voter approval.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this article.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.


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