The lineup of ballot initiatives covers everything from Hometown Democracy to legislative redistricting.
[Photo: Roberto Schmidt, Getty Images]
Public Campaign Financing
What It Does: Would do away with public financing of statewide election campaigns for governor and three Florida Cabinet positions. It would not take effect until after the 2010 elections.
Background: The public financing system for elections was voted into the Florida Constitution in 1998. Under current law, candidates running for governor or a Cabinet position who agree to limit their spending are entitled to state matching funds of up to $250 for every individual donation they receive. If a candidate's opponent exceeds the state's spending caps — currently $24.9 million for the governor's race and $12.45 million for a Cabinet position — the candidate is entitled to a dollar-for-dollar match on everything his or her opponent spends above the cap. While 64% of voters supported public financing in 1998, the current era of tight budgeting could cause many to rethink the issue.
Proponents: More than three-fifths of state lawmakers support abolishing what many say amounts to little more than 'welfare for politicians." Rep. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), sponsor of the House resolution to repeal the system, told the Miami Herald that the state has 'no business using taxpayer dollars" for such purposes and says the money would be better put to use for education, rehabilitating prisoners or providing foster care for children.
Opponents: Groups such as Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and Florida PIRG oppose scrapping public financing. They say Amendment 1 would increase the influence of special interests on elections and reduce the number of candidates who can afford to run for office.
Financial Impact: The state dispensed more than $11 million to candidates in 2006, $5.2 million in 2002, $914,885 in 2000 and $4.6 million in 1998.
What It Does: Reduces property tax rates for military personnel deployed outside the U.S. on active duty in the previous year. The exempt amount depends on the number of days the soldier is deployed. If approved, the amendment will take effect Jan. 1.
Background: More than 25,000 Floridians are deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The tax break was the brainchild of Michael Waldrop, a former U.S. Army Reserve infantry captain from Orlando, who began lobbying state lawmakers for tax relief while he was stationed in Afghanistan in 2006-07. Rep. Mike Horner (R-Kissimmee) sponsored the House Resolution that placed the constitutional amendment on the ballot. Horner served in the U.S. Army Florida National Guard from 1992-96. Sen. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) sponsored a companion measure in the Senate.
Proponents: The House and Senate unanimously supported placing Amendment 2 on the ballot, and Gov. Charlie Crist has lauded the measure.
Opponents: The amendment has drawn no vocal opposition; the Miami-Dade County Commission, went so far as to pass a resolution urging state lawmakers to pass it.
Financial Impact: According to the Revenue Estimating Conference, this proposal would have reduced statewide receipts by $13 million if it had been in effect over the past fiscal year, assuming current millage rates.