Florida Amendment 9 (2008)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
The measure would have created a new section in the Florida Constitution requiring at least 65 percent of school funding to be used for classroom instruction, rather than school administration. It would reverse the legal precedent which prohibits public funding of private alternatives to public school programs without creating an entitlement, as well as allow for differences in administrative expenditures by district. This measure was voted onto the ballot by the TBRC on April 28, 2008.
Courts remove from ballot
On September 3, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court struck Amendment 9 from the November ballot. Justices had questioned whether the amendment was misleading to voters, and whether the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission had overstepped its authority. The court did not explain its reasoning, instead issuing a one-page ruling striking Amendment 5, Amendment 7, and Amendment 9 from the ballot, and promising more explanation later.
Opponents and lawsuit
The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit against Amendment 9 in early June 2008. The lawsuit, filed in Leon County, Florida, names the Florida Secretary of State as the defendant, and seeks to prevent that office from placing the measure on the November ballot.
The suit claimed that when the TBRC put the measure on the ballot, they went beyond its constitutional mandate to recommend taxation and budgetary changes by:
- Misleading voters with Amendment 9, which would remove the barriers to vouchers for private schools and require schools to spend 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom.
According to Ron Meyer, lead attorney in the lawsuit, "The commission has run amok."
TBRC Chairman Allan Bense said he was confident the amendments will withstand the legal challenge.
Hearing on August 4
Leon County Judge John C. Cooper heard two hours of arguments in the lawsuit, Ford v. Browning, on Monday, August 4. The Orlando Sentinel reported that he "seemed unimpressed" with parts of the claims brought by the state and pro-school voucher groups. Judge Cooper ruled on August 5 against the plaintiffs, who announced later in the week that they would appeal the decison to a higher court.
- New York Times: "Court Blocks Florida Ballot Measures Intended to Help School Vouchers," Sep 4, 2008
- Miami Herald: "School groups attack 2 ballot items," June 14, 2008
- OrlandoSentinal.com: "Judge hears lawsuit on two school-voucher amendments," August 4, 2008
- Religion Clause: "Florida Court Rejects Challenges to November Ballot Initiatives," Aug 5, 2008