Looks like Jeb Bush and I are on the same page on the Amendments. RPOF published on their website this op-ed that Jeb wrote for the Tampa Tribune last week:
We'll soon learn the outcome of some of the most hotly contested elections in recent memory. But the full story of the 2010 elections won't be told only by those who won the U.S. Senate seat or governor's mansion. That's because Florida is one of only 18 states that allows its citizens to amend their constitutions. With that right comes great power but also great responsibility.
This year, Floridians will consider seven amendments to our constitution.
What guidelines should we use in examining these proposed amendments? As governor, I always examined the fiscal impact of proposed legislation. The job of our elected officials includes spending our tax dollars wisely, and I believe citizens have the same responsibility as they consider proposed constitutional changes.
We also need to look at whether or not amending the constitution is the best way to affect change. What are the unintended consequences? Can legislation accomplish the same goal, but give our state the flexibility to meet other needs that might be negatively impacted by a constitutional change?
When I vote absentee, I will vote no on three of the seven proposed changes. The concerns these proposals raise are worthy of serious consideration by Floridians.
Amendment 4 requires voter approval of every change to a city or county's comprehensive land use plan. It has the potential to completely stall our economy, making it harder to create and grow jobs and to responsibly manage growth in our beautiful state. One city in Florida that tried a similar local law has found that the idea – which initially sounded good to local voters – has caused years of costly litigation that burdens taxpayers and drives jobs and business elsewhere. If Amendment 4 does not work in a city of 10,000 people, it is hard to imagine that it will work in a state of 18 million. I'll vote no.
Amendments 5 and 6 change the way Florida draws legislative and congressional district boundaries. While not perfect, Florida's system of representative democracy has resulted in one of the most diverse groups of elected officials in the nation and increased minority participation in government. Amendments 5 and 6 could potentially jeopardize the progress Florida has made in creating opportunities for all individuals to serve in their government. The non-partisan James Madison Institute says that enactment of these proposed amendments would likely result in protracted litigation and districts that are ultimately devised by judges rather than elected representatives.
Florida has learned there is nothing more important than clear, workable elections laws. Amendments 5 and 6 would create murky standards that would become almost impossible to change. I am voting no.
I am voting yes on Amendment 1, which repeals public campaign financing for statewide candidates who agree to spending limits. I've long been an opponent of using our tax dollars to finance political campaigns. Tax dollars should be spent in the classroom, on protecting public safety and providing a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, not on welfare for politicians.
I am voting yes on Amendment 2, which provides a homestead exemption for active duty military and National Guard who spent the previous year deployed overseas. It's appropriate to provide tax relief to our more than 25,000 Floridians who are protecting our citizens, and I believe this outweighs the estimated fiscal impact.
Amendment 8 addresses unintended consequences I referenced earlier. Several years ago voters approved a proposal which created a maximum class size for our public schools. While admirable in its goals, the impact has been devastating: reduced dollars in the classroom, fewer resources to pay teachers and a false sense we are improving the quality of education through class size reductions. Amendment 8, the "Right Size Class Size" amendment, changes maximum numbers to a school-wide average, maintaining smaller class size but freeing up dollars to focus on our students. I am voting yes.
I am voting yes on the advisory proposal to force Congress to balance their budget, just as Florida must balance our own budget and Floridians, at their kitchen tables, balance their budgets every week.
Since the birth of our country, the power to govern has ultimately resided in the individual – people like you and me. I encourage every Floridian to exercise this extraordinary privilege.
For my discussion of the Amendments, click here: