Opponents of "smart cap" rally at state Capitol

3:40 PM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida - One of the proposed constitutional amendments Florida voters will decide next month would put a cap on state spending.

Amendment 3 would prohibit Florida's budget from increasing more than the annual growth of population and inflation rate.

The measure was one of the main priorities of Senate President Mike Haridopolos last year. He called it a smart cap that would force future lawmakers to spend money wisely.

Opponents rallied against Amendment 3 at the state Capitol on Monday. They said it may sound like a good idea but it would cause more harm than good.

Protesters argued the proposal would result in budget cuts for education and public safety, as well as reduce services for children, seniors, and the middle class.

Barbara DeVane of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans blasted Sen. Haridopolos for pushing the amendment.

"He called it a smart cap. I'm a retired schoolteacher. This is the dumbest idea I've ever seen and he's gone. He's not going to have to pay for this. We're going to pay for it."

The rally included pastors from around the state, including Rev. Richard Dunn of Miami.

"I know a wolf when I see one. This Amendment 3 is a wolf and it's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Part of my responsibility as a pastor is to cry out loud and spare none. This will not be good for the great citizens of the state of Florida. It will not be good for our children. It will not be good for our seniors. It will not be good for middle class people. Say 'No' on 3."

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said all 11 proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot were placed there by state lawmakers.

"These are political issues placed on the ballot for political purposes and quite frankly does not add anything of value to the Florida Constitution and to the citizens of this state."

Charles Milstead of AARP said the amendment would pit vital programs against one another.

"We will be pitting seniors versus children, health care versus education, prisons versus transportation, and a host of others."

Under Amendment 3, if the state collected more tax money than allowed by the cap, the extra cash would have to go into a "rainy day fund."

And if that savings account surpassed 10 percent of the previous year's budget, then the cash would be used to give tax breaks or lower property taxes.

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