One Way to Stop Intergovernmental Infighting

State government and local governments in Florida fought with one another over taxes in January. Governor Charlie Crist and most legislators favored a constitutional amendment ...
by | February 21, 2008

State government and local governments in Florida fought with one another over taxes in January. Governor Charlie Crist and most legislators favored a constitutional amendment to cut property taxes. Most local officials, whose governments depend on property tax revenue, didn't.

The state won. Voters approved the measure, known as "Amendment 1," with more than 60% of the vote.

Now some legislators want to make sure this sort of intergovernmental conflict never happens again -- by forbidding municipalities from trying to influence election results. The Orlando Sentinel explains:

Legislators also are considering a ban on using public money for election advocacy after the statewide effort local governments waged to warn residents about possible cuts to park services, law enforcement and senior programs if Amendment 1 passed.

"What we are going after is the big-ticket expenditures of spending my tax dollars to tell me how to vote on an issue when I may be 100 percent opposed to it," said Sen. Charlie Justice, the St. Petersburg Democrat sponsoring it. "I have seen the line pushed further and further in recent years."

...

Kraig Conn, legislative counsel for the Florida League of Cities, said local officials had a duty recognized by the Florida Supreme Court to spend taxpayer money to influence elections if it serves a public purpose. The Florida League of Cities, which is supported by dues from more than 400 municipalities, spent $800,000 fighting Amendment 1 with mailers.

"That's a representative form of democracy, to use their offices to express an opinion," Conn said.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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