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Editorial: The amendments

IN OUR OPINION

Ocala, FL - October 30, 2012

There are 11 proposed state constitutional amendments and one Marion County level tax initiative on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. Here are the Star-Banner’s recommendations on the ballot proposals.

Amendment 1: Health care services: This is a meaningless popularity contest on Obamacare that will be superseded by federal law regardless of how Floridians vote. It has no place in the state constitution: NO

Amendment 2: Disabled veterans property tax discount: This is the least we can do for veterans injured in the service of their country; it will have a nominal impact on state and local tax revenues: YES

Amendment 3: State government revenue limitation: Imposes an artificial cap on the state’s ability to fund schools, colleges and universities, public safety and other essential services. Florida already has plenty of restrictions on local government’s ability to determine its own fiscal destiny: NO

Amendment 4: Property tax limitations: This latest in a series of property tax breaks will cripple the ability of cities and counties to provide essential public services, especially after years of cutting budgets and forestalling needed infrastructure investments: NO

Amendment 5: State courts: This is an attempt by the Legislature to exercise dominance over the judiciary by giving the governor and the state Senate new and exceptional authority over the selection of Supreme Court judges. This is an unabashed power play by lawmakers trying to seek retribution against the Florida Supreme Court. Protect the separation of powers that has worked so well: NO

Amendment 6: Prohibition on public funding of abortions: Public funding of abortions is already prohibited by federal law, called the Hyde Amendment. This amendment would eat into the privacy rights of Floridians: NO

Amendment 8: Religious freedom: This has nothing to do with “religious freedom.” It is simply a bit of political trickery by some lawmakers who want to allow the Legislature to funnel increasingly precious public tax dollars to private religious schools: NO

Amendment 9: Homestead property tax exemption for a surviving spouse of a military veteran or first responder. Florida already provides this to military spouses, and this amendment would expand the law to spouses of first responders. Again, it has a nominal impact on the state and local government treasuries: YES

Amendment 10: Tangible personal property tax exemption: This is an unnecessary giveaway to businesses at the expense of local governments: NO

Amendment 11: Additional homestead exemption for low-income seniors: YES

Amendment 12: Appointment of student body president to Board of Governors of the State University System: YES

Munroe Regional Medical Center bond issue: Listed last on your local ballot, this referendum calls for the Marion County Hospital District, which owns Munroe, to levy a $1 million property tax for five years that would generate $65 million for building, equipment and technology improvements at the publicly owned Munroe: YES.


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