Tax Swap amendment on November ballot

07/02/08 Seán Kinane
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In addition to voting for president this November, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote on several proposed amendments to the state’s Constitution.

Amendment 5 is called the “tax-swap” amendment because it would reduce the property taxes of Floridians in favor of increased sales tax and other taxes.

State Sen. Dave Aronberg is a Democrat from Greenacres in southeast Florida who said he opposes Amendment 5.

The tax-swap amendment calls for an elimination of a tax called the Required Local Effort (RLE) in the 2010-2011 year. RLE is a property tax used to pay for public schools.

Former Senate President John McKay was a member of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC). He is a main proponent of the tax-swap amendment because, he says, it would result in “a tremendous economic stimulus.”

Aronberg said increasing the state sales tax by 1 percent would not make up the revenue gap lost in property taxes.

McKay said, if eliminated, sales tax exemptions could add up to about $34 billion in revenue, which means he disagrees with opponents who say the sales tax would have to be increased.

There are three ways a proposed amendment can be placed on the ballot. One way is for it to be placed there by the state Legislature. Another way is by gathering several hundred thousand petitions, such as the proposed amendment banning gay marriage that will appear as Amendment 2 on the November ballot. The tax swap, and six other amendments were placed on the ballot in a third manner by TBRC.

Florida’s constitution requires that the TBRC be assembled every 20 years to examine the budget, revenue, tax and expenditure processes of the state. Florida Tax Watch’s Calabro said that a TBRC analysis said that Amendment 5, if passed, could cost Florida 60,000 jobs.

Amendment 5, the tax-swap amendment will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

“Tax-Swap” Amendment 5

Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission

2008 Florida Constitutional Amendments on the general election ballot

Florida Tax Watch analysis of 2008 amendments

Florida Education Association

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