Grassroots effort kills Amendment 1

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
November 7, 2018

PHOTO: Person filling out a ballot, Photo Date: August 15, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Amendment 1, which would have increased the homestead exemption, got just over 58 percent of the vote. It was just shy of the 60 percent needed for approval.

It was the only amendment to fail, largely because of a grassroots effort by cities and counties.

Greg Haire was one of more than 4.5 million people who voted for Amendment 1, even though it wouldn’t have helped him in the house he lives in today.

“Property owners need all the breaks they can get," said Haire.

The amendment would have given an additional $25,000 homestead exemption to homes worth at least $125,000. It fell 149,000 votes shy of approval, and it was the cities and counties that killed it.

“We had more than 400 cities, which results in thousands of city officials singing the same song," said Jenna Tala with the Florida League of Cities. "Amendment 1 was clearly a tax shift, and voters saw that.”

Florida Realtors backed the amendment. Statewide, the amendment would have reduced local revenues by $750 million.

“Some of the bigger counties down south, 30, 40, 50 million dollars," said former Florida Association of Counties President Bryan Desloge. "It’s not an insignificant amount of money.”

Local governments successfully argued three out of four homeowners would pay more if Amendment 1 passed.

“The money has got to come from somewhere, so if you are going to reduce somebody’s taxes, you’ve got to make it up somewhere else," said Desloge. "And that somewhere else was going to be the low income people. It was gonna be the renters, it was going to be the commercial property owners.”

While millions were spent unsuccessfully fighting other amendments, Amendment 1's grassroots defeat is proof money doesn’t always matter.

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