Florida Federal Budget Advisory Question (2010)

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Florida Federal Budget Advisory Question, also known as Senate Bill 2742, appeared on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Florida as an advisory question where it was approved.

The question was a nonbinding referendum that asked whether Congress should add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget without raising taxes.[1][2]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Federal Budget Advisory Question
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 3,524,629 71.90%
No1,377,35228.10%

Official results via Florida Division of Elections

Text of measure

Title

According to the Florida Secretary of State's office, the ballot question read as follows:[3]

In order to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens our economy and national security, should the United States Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?[4]

Support

Supporters argued that a balanced budget was necessary because deficit spending could only lead to financial ruin. The amendment, they argued, was for the benefit of the nation. Senate President Jeff Atwater sponsored the proposed legislation. He said, "There is no fiscal discipline in Washington. The burden is growing. It's time for us to demand a balanced budget."[5]

Opposition

Opponents argued that the proposed measure wasn't needed. Sen. Dan Gelber argued that voters could vote out politicians if they didn't like the way in which they were handling budget issues, for example. "It's bumper sticker politics that got us into this mess, and if people don't like what Congress is doing they should vote them out," said Gelber.[5]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Florida ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The (Panama City) News Herald supported the advisory measure. The editorial board said, "This is a freebie. Send Congress a message without having to worry about the hairy details of implementing such a measure."[6]
  • Creative Loafing's Irreverent View was in support. The editorial board said, "While this question and what it addresses is of the utmost importance (balancing the federal budget), putting this glorified public opinion poll on the ballot to score political points is a perfect example of what is wrong with American politics: people like Jeff Atwater. That said let’s not send the wrong message. Irreverent View recommends a “Yes” vote on the question of balancing the federal budget. But check your ballot and make you voted against Jeff Atwater for CFO."[7]

Opposition

  • The St. Petersburg Times was opposed to the advisory question. In an editorial, the board said, "The nation must address its deficit spending, but that cannot be done responsibly without both reducing spending and increasing revenue. The Times recommends a 'no' vote."[8]
  • The Bradenton Herald opposed the proposed measure. The editorial board said, "This feel-good message is not grounded in reality, however, since enactment would restrict the government’s ability to wage war and defend the nation. Much of the growing national debt can be attributed to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The referendum offers no specifics on spending cuts. We recommend a no vote."[9]
  • The Pensacola News Journal was opposed to the advisory question. In an editorial, the board said, "This is a feel-good call for a non-binding referendum on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes. But a constitutional convention is the last thing we need in these contentious times. And this amendment makes no recommendations on what should be cut — the ultimate political freebie."[10]
  • The Herald-Tribune was opposed to the advisory question. The editorial board said, "...the text of the amendment doesn't indicate that the proponents are serious about taking the steps necessary to balance revenue with expenses while also paying the federal debt...The original question was more honest, asking whether Floridians favored a balanced federal budget. But the proponents of a referendum changed the language, opting to ask a loaded question to suit their politics. Achieving a balanced federal budget and paying the debt without raising taxes is wishful thinking. There's no point in sending a message suggesting otherwise. The Herald-Tribune recommends voting "No" on Referendum No. 1."[11]
  • The Naples Daily News was opposed to the proposed question. "A straw ballot carries no weight and we’re tempted to recommend skipping it, so as not to be a party to a partisan political machination. But instead, vote no in recognition that Congress is charged with writing the federal budget and fiscal restraint needs to start with its members," said the editorial board.[12]
  • The Orlando Sentinel was opposed. "Instead of making the question a political manifesto, why not just ask if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to require a balanced budget? We support the idea of a balanced budget but recommend a NO vote on principle, sending a message that legislators should try asking again, but without treating voters like intellectual infants," said the editorial board.[13]
  • The Ledger said, "This referendum will enact nothing. The question asked is a federal issue, not state. It is frivolous. The nonbinding referendum asks voters, should the U.S. Constitution require "a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?" Even the premise is ill-advised, ignoring times of crisis."[14]

Path to the ballot

The proposed measure was approved by the House on April 22, 2010 after a 79 to 33 vote. On April 29 the Senate voted 31 to 5 in approval of referring the measure to the statewide ballot.[15]

See also

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