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PLANNING AMENDMENT ON BALLOT by Victoria Langley

October 27th, 2006 by flanews

Voters are being asked to decide this election whether Florida needs a new legislative task force to plan out the future use of your tax dollars. Jeb Bush says Amendment 1 would put an important long-range outlook for state spending into Floridas constitution. But even supporters have some concerns about whether we really need another task force.Jeb Bush wont be in office next spring when lawmakers craft what will likely be about an 80-billion dollar state budget. But hes a big supporter of a proposed Constitutional Amendment to limit the amount of one-time money the legislature can use for ongoing state costs.

The problem with state governments across the country is they use non-recurring money to spend on recurring obligations, Bush said. When the non-recurring money goes away, they say oh, we need to raise taxes. This puts a limit on that availability.

If Amendment 1 passes, lawmakers could only use up to 3 percent of one-time money for ongoing expenses. Theyd have to take a vote if they wanted to raise that limit.

Dominic Calabro heads the fiscally-conservative watchdog group TaxWatch. He says the 3-percent limit doesnt go far enough.

We think you should use zero percent of one-time, non-recurring revenue for recurring expenses, Calabro said. Otherwise, its fiscal mischief.

The Amendment would also create a Government efficiency task force to develop a long-range financial plan for the state. Opponents argue the amendment really isnt necessary as long as lawmakers do their job.

Lawmakers voted to put Amendment 1 on the ballot back in 2004, saying the state needs to do a better job of future financial planning. If Amendment 1 doesnt pass, current budget laws that were originally proposed by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and approved by voters in 1992 will remain in place.

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