Florida Amendment 5: Supermajority for tax increases

When you vote this November, one of the key things you'll have to consider is math. Florida Republicans are pushing for an amendment that would require any new taxes or fees to have the approval of two-thirds of the legislature.

If approved by 60 percent of voters, raising fees for parks, gun permits, driver licenses, corporate taxes or sales taxes by even a tenth of a penny would be much harder.

"People work hard for their money," said State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg). "It should be hard for government to take their money."

Right now, a simple majority in both the state House and Senate is required to increase most taxes or fees: 61 in the House, 21 in the Senate. 

Amendment Five would raise the required vote to a super-majority, or two-thirds of both chambers. Instead of needing 61 and 21, tax raisers would need 80 in the House and 27 in the Senate.

"You just have to go back a few years to the Great Recession, when you saw the legislature raising taxes at the worst time for many," said Brandes.

But some worry that this is easy to say during relatively good times, when the legislature expects to head into session with a surplus, but what happens during the bad times?  

In short, they say super-majorities are shortsighted.

"It makes it more difficult to respond to budget needs," said State Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg).

For instance, during the Great Recession, when home values crashed both household and state budgets, the Republican legislature boosted things like motor vehicle license fees to keep the budget balanced. 

Those opposed to Amendment Five also say it's politically motivated, that the GOP is making a pre-emptive strike in case Andrew Gillum becomes governor. 

How would he pass a health care package without new corporate taxes?

"A minority of members could stop some very good and probably needed legislative action," said Rouson. "A super-majority creates tyranny of the minority."