Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission
The TBRC commission meets once every twenty years. It has the authority to place commission referrals as statewide ballot measures on the Florida ballot. It is the only commission of its kind in the United States. There are 25 members of the commission; a minimum of 18 of them must agree to place a measure on the ballot.
In 2008, the TBRC voted to put seven statewide measures on the November 2008 ballot:
- Amendment 3, or Florida Improvements on Property Don't Affect Taxable Value
- Amendment 4, or Florida Property Tax Exemption of Perpetually Conserved Land
- Amendment 5, or Replacing the School Property Tax
- Amendment 6, or Waterfront Property Assessment Based On Use
- Amendment 7, or State Tax Religious Freedom
- Amendment 8, or Local Option Community College Funding
- Amendment 9, or State's Duty for Children's Education
Amendments 5, 7 and 9 removed from ballot by state Florida Supreme Court
On Wednesday, September 3, the Florida Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling struck three measures from the November 4, 2008 ballot. The proposed amendments the court took off the ballot had been proposed by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. They were Amendments 5, 7 and 9. Two of the propositions were designed to help Florida's school voucher program withstand legal challenges.
Teachers union files lawsuit
In early June 2008, the Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit in Leon County against Kurt Browning, the Florida Secretary of State, asking the court to remove Amendments 7 and 9 from the November 4 ballot.
The suit claims the TBRC went beyond its constitutional mandate to recommend taxation and budgetary changes by:
- Attempting in Amendment 7 to repeal the constitutional ban on state aid to religious institutions, and
- 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.