The Florida House of Representatives handily passed a resolution for a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds of the Legislature’s approval before increasing taxes and fees on Floridians late Thursday afternoon.
State lawmakers voted 80-29 in favor of the measure, which sets a higher bar for state lawmakers to raise taxes on Floridians. Ten Democrats voted with Republicans to pass the bill, putting the vote count just over the 72-vote requirement to pass the constitutional amendment.
The amendment requires three-fifths of the Florida Senate’s vote to be approved.
HJR 7001 would not be lifted if the state entered a financial crisis and a state tax or fee imposed or raised would need to be filed in a “clean” bill with no other subjects.
If passed, the proposal would be placed on the November ballot where voters would ultimately decide whether to reject or approve the measure.
Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, who sponsored the legislation, said the measure would be a protective measure for Floridians’ pocketbooks and would make sure lawmakers are held accountable for their actions.
“You either stand with the people whose money the government takes or you stand with the government that takes it,” Leek said.
The bill has gathered significant attention for being one of the top legislative priorities for Gov. Rick Scott, who has largely centered his eight-year term as governor around cutting taxes and putting Floridians back to work.
Scott has frequently tag-teamed with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, on a variety of issues since the last legislative session and has emphasized the need for lawmakers to pass the measure this year.
“I appreciate Speaker Corcoran for his commitment to fighting to make sure it is harder for politicians to raise taxes and fees on hardworking families,” said Scott in a prepared statement on Thursday. “When I first announced this proposal, Speaker Corcoran joined me to ensure we do all we can to let families and job creators keep more of their hard-earned money.”
Corcoran seemed to embrace Scott’s idea of cutting taxes in a statement Thursday.
"We should always make it much more difficult to raise taxes than it is to cut them,” Corcoran said.
Several other states already require a supermajority for tax hikes, including Arizona and California. Sixty percent of voters would need to approve the measure for it to go into effect.
The bill now heads to the Senate for approval, where it is likely to pass.