This year Florida voters faced 12 constitutional amendment proposals at the ballot box. Each required a 60% vote for approval. Amendment 5 passed but remains one of the more obscure amendments. Still, it could have major implications for the future of health care in our state.
This amendment requires a two-thirds vote in the Florida House and Senate — instead of a simple majority — to raise taxes. Importantly, it was placed on the ballot by the Legislature with the intent to make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes. It does not apply to local taxes and stops lawmakers from adding tax and fee increases onto other legislative bills.
The concern for health care is that Amendment 5 locks in unfavorable policies (special corporate tax breaks) before the state has had a chance to recover from deep cuts following the Great Recession. In the wake of another fiscal crisis the supermajority requirement would likely make it hard to raise new revenues. That could mean huge funding cuts for some of the programs that Floridians rely on in tough times.
Historically, the Medicaid program has been targeted for cuts when the Florida Legislature is looking for dollars. A supermajority requirement would significantly ramp up these fiscal pressures.