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Is Amendment ‬4‭ ‬a Corporate Welfare Scheme or Does it Expand the Free Market?

August 4, 2016 - 10:00am

I am opposed to government corporate welfare programs,‭ ‬where the government picks winners and losers by giving financial grants and tax breaks to certain politically connected businesses.‭ ‬This is blatantly unfair to the remaining businesses and creates an uneven playing field.‭ ‬You can also label me a man-made climate change skeptic,‭ ‬to put it mildly.‭  

There are some saying that Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬on the August‭ ‬30th ballot is just another corporate welfare scheme,‭ ‬giving a tax break to certain well connected hand-picked businesses and industries and is a subsidy to the solar industry.‭  ‬I am opposed to any subsidies from the government,‭ ‬subsidies only distort prices and resource allocation.‭ ‬Politicians picking certain industries is really arrogant on their part,‭ ‬businesses need flexibility to meet customer needs and wants,‭ ‬subsidizing solar panels could waste capital when there may be a much more affordable and efficient alternative energy source in the future.‭ ‬What energy source serves society best today may not be the best in the future.

Here is the ballot summary for Amendment‭ ‬4:

‭ ‬Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature,‭ ‬by general law,‭ ‬to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax,‭ ‬and to authorize the legislature,‭ ‬by general law,‭ ‬to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes.‭ ‬This amendment takes effect January‭ ‬1,‭ ‬2018,‭ ‬and expires on December‭ ‬31,‭ ‬2037.

From the Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬ballot summary,‭ ‬we see that this so-called tax break is for any and all properties,‭ ‬and any and all tangible property.‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬has been referred by some as a solar subsidy,‭ ‬this is clearly not the case.‭ ‬For Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬to be classified a subsidy,‭ ‬it would require some kind of wealth transfer,‭ ‬such as the financial grants that the governor’s‭ “‬quick action closing fund‭” ‬gives to certain hand-picked companies.‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬does not create a wealth transfer‭; ‬thus it is false to call it a subsidy.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬does not specify only solar,‭ ‬but any renewable energy source.‭ 

I have always spoken out against corporate welfare programs and unfortunately I have seen real corporate welfare programs coming from the Florida legislature.‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬is not corporate welfare‭!

What Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬will do is open up the market and increase competition with the big electric companies who do get special tax breaks from the government.‭ ‬The government has granted the big electric companies a monopoly status and consumers have no choice.‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬will empower consumers and give them more choices of how they provide power.‭ ‬Amendment‭ ‬4‭ ‬will increase competition and choices‭; ‬you can’t get any more‭ “‬free market‭” ‬than that.‭   

John Hallman is an active,‭ ‬longtime voice in all levels of Florida politics and is a veteran of advocating issues of liberty in the Florida legislature.‭ ‬John has served as the State Director for FreedomWorks and while in Tallahassee,‭ ‬John has represented such groups as Liberty First Network,‭ ‬Florida Taxpayers Union,‭ ‬Cut Property Taxes Now,‭ ‬The Second Amendment Coalition of Florida and The Florida Campaign for Liberty.‭ 

Comments

All this amendment does is AUTHORIZE the Legislature to pass a law some time between 2018-2037 that exempts solar/renewable energy devices from the current tax structure. There is nothing binding or mandated here. It allows the Legislature the option to pass a law - it does not require them to pass a law. Something big, or nothing at all may happen legislatively as a result of this Constitutional Amendment. But without the Amendment - the Legislature can't change the tax structure. It's making a choice possible for the lawmakers nothing more.

I still have not decided how to vote on No 4. Promoting solar is great . But shouldn't this be all about solar and not rewriting the property tax law? I hate most Florida amendments because the name of the amendment is usually misleading. Why is this also in the solar devices amendment? Lower, from 10 percent to 5 percent, the cap on the annual growth in the assessed (taxable) value of “non-homestead” properties — that is, properties that are not owner-occupied, year-round residential properties, ranging from major corporate properties to the second homes of non-Floridians (increases in assessed value that result from improvements to a property are not subject to the cap).[4] Create a property tax exemption for first-time Florida homebuyers (full-time Florida homeowners who have not owned a home in Florida over the last three years). The exemption would initially be worth half of the property’s value, up to the county’s median home value, and would phase out over five years. Permit the Florida legislature to eliminate Florida’s “recapture” rule, which allows a property’s assessed value to rise even if its market value declines if the assessed value is lower than the market value. (Florida caps the annual growth in a property’s assessed value. If a property’s market value is growing faster than the cap, a gap emerges between the home’s market value and its taxable value. If the property’s market value subsequently falls but remains above its taxable value, the recapture rule requires the taxable value to continue to increase until it catches up to the property’s market value).

The devil is in the details; legal vernacular should be written at the 5th grade level. So people understand amendments they are voting for, ballot initiatives in plain English maybe scenario based. I appreciate this article & truly want solar for my home. Thanks

This shouldn't be put into the constitution; however, since it's on the ballot we have to vote yes or no. Propertyowners want every tax break they can get. If you agree vote yes or if you strongly object to putting it on the constitution vote no.

The Florida Constitution prohibits any exemptions from the property tax code from being done any way EXCEPT for ballot initiative. So Constitutionally the only way to create an exemption in property taxes for anyone is on your ballot. Over the years we have had many ballot referendums like this to give extra exemptions to veterans, military families, elderly and more. This is circumventing the legislative process. This is the ONLY process this can legally be done by.

This man knows nothing about how regulated power markets work in America and in Florida. These aren't free markets. So the usual free market arguments used here do not apply. Today, nobody can choose to buy solar power even if it costs more. They must purchase from the utility that was GIVEN their service territory BY THE GOVERNMENT. He also doesn't understand how assessments work with local governments. They raise your taxes every chance they get. You bought a 200k house. You homestead your property at 200k. 20 years later, your home Is worth 500k, but taxed at 230k (Save Our Homes). Now if you add a pool or solar PV, these local building inspector douchebags who work for local government can come in and re-assess your home and double your taxes once you lose SOH. This amendment corrects an injustice niched in Florida's property tax system. Calling this a subsidy is just plain ignorant. These are the same TEA PARTY people who say "get the government out of our Medicare" Lowest common intellectual demonenator on these issues. Yes he is wrong. But he doesn't even know why. That's the sad part.

No the sad part is that you can't read. He is in favor of amendment 4. Wow

Hey Mike, but this guy's 'experienced' and knows just about everything...just ask him! That's the problem with these guys who think they know it all! GO TRUMP!!

I replied in the wrong spot. I was replying to that moron below, Not JohnH.

What, no free Marijuana for everyone.... how pitiful.

Follow the money................... Hallman is associated with "Freedom works" and other such faux freedom groups............ "FreedomWorks originated from a conservative political group founded by David H. Koch and Charles Koch." (Wikipedia).......... The Kochs have massive oil holdings......... More solar power, less need for energy from oil.

Way to go Diane!

the bio said Hallman "HAS" served (past tense) as past state director of Freedomworks. Hallman's sources of funding his organization, Liberty First, come from citizens and not the Koch brothers. Hallman's voice is his own. Hallman also has been extremely vocal in his support of the solar ballot initiative pushed by Floridians For Solar Choice. Big energy is fighting that ballot initiative and come out with their own amendment which will be on the ballot in September. THAT is the one you should be fighting.

No ballots in September! I imagine you meant November.

I agree John! This will help bring the cost of solar down so that more people can generate their own power. That is freedom. I don't like the government picking winners and losers either. But Duke has been a monopoly for too long. This helps free market competition. I also like any tax break. Sometimes you have to accept incremental breaks. I would love to get rid of tangible altogether. This just extends an existing tax to business properties. And, if we can't get it done through the legislature, it is our right to do so through a ballot initiative. Also not my preferred way but if the lawmakers aren't being responsive, let the people decide!

Sorry, Mr. Hallman, but have you considered that the Florida Constitution is once again being used to circumvent the regular legislative process? We're thinking that the House and Senate in Tallahassee are too stupid to develop this advantage through normal channels? I think that we should reserve the Constitution to those issues where the legislature is incapable of reforming itself.

The Florida Constitution prohibits any exemptions from the property tax code from being done any way EXCEPT for ballot initiative. So Constitutionally the only way to create an exemption in property taxes for anyone is on your ballot. Over the years we have had many ballot referendums like this to give extra exemptions to veterans, military families, elderly and more. This is circumventing the legislative process. This is the ONLY process this can legally be done by.

Obviously you have not read it. A ballot onitiative is the only way you can do this.

Obviously you have not read it. A ballot onitiative is the only way you can do this.

No one thinks the House and Senate are too stupid to do this on their own. We think they won't do it on their own because the big oil lobbyists own much of the legislature. Spend some time up there trying to get meaningful legislation passed. It is enlightening.

Sorry, but it certainly is a wealth transfer and a subsidy. Under Amendment 4, if I get solar installed on my house & my neighbor does not, I pay less property tax than my neighbor for services (police, fire, etc) we both use. That makes it a wealth transfer (to me) and a subsidy for (my participation in) solar/renewable energy. Feel free to argue the merits of the policy, but it's disingenuous to say it's not a subsidy. I am not against solar, even considering getting it myself. A true free market approach would be to remove regulations and change laws that give preference to oil & gas energy sources.

That's not exactly true. If you install a renewable energy system on your home you would still pay the exact same amount as you do right now. Your taxes wouldn't go down. They just wouldn't go up. This initiative would only stop your property taxes from being increased even thought you "improved" your homes value. We currently have these same exemptions for a myriad of other home improvements including new roofs, new energy efficient A/C units, new drought resistant landscaping and other improvements to your property. You and your neighbor will still pay the exact same rate in property taxes.

Ha, ha, ha, ha!!! And what oil/gas companies do you invest in?

None. Did you read my post? I believe any advantages Oil & Gas companies have should be removed. All energy sources should compete on a truly level playing field.

John Hallman: Greed in action.

This guy is a wacko. He is probably funded by oil companies or some other industry that doesn't like solar.......

Lisa, did you read the article or just the headline?

You might want to reread the article. He is in favor of amendment 4

I agree it isn cw but much better would be put oil, ng and coals full pollution, healthcare , military, etc costs in them instead of 20 % higher income taxes, we all could get a big a tax cut and a fair market with no subsidies like fossil fuels are getting now. The biggest corporate welfare is it being illegal to sell lower cost clean power which has killed the solar, wind industry with Florida behind NJ in solar, wind.. This has stopped 40k jobs in Florida.

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