Statement of Nicholas Johnson, Vice President for State Fiscal Policy, on Defeat of “TABOR” Amendment in Florida
Florida voters yesterday resoundingly rejected the crippling and arbitrary spending limit known as TABOR, showing once again that such limits remain unpopular around the country. Anti-government groups have made serious efforts to enact TABORs through both ballot measures and legislation in 30 states since 2004 and they have failed every time. In fact, Florida is the sixth state in a row where voters have rejected TABOR at the ballot box.
By rejecting TABOR (officially Amendment Three), Florida voters helped preserve needed public services and improve the business climate. They clearly learned the lessons of Colorado, which was the only state ever to adopt TABOR. After TABOR’s passage in 1992, Colorado suffered a serious deterioration in education, health care, and other services due to TABOR’s rigid spending limits. That’s why a broad coalition of Colorado residents — including business leaders — came together to suspend it in 2005. This year, Florida’s Amendment Three was opposed by a broad and bipartisan array of business, civic, labor, education, senior, and faith leaders who understood the damage that it would do to the state’s economy and quality of life.
As states continue to recover from the current economic and budget crisis and look forward to rebuilding prosperity, they will need the flexibility to make investments in education, health, roads and bridges, and other areas that have been starved for funding during the crisis. If adopted in any state in coming years, TABOR would prevent the state from making those investments, and leave it without the skilled workforce and solid infrastructure needed to prosper over the long term. Fortunately, voters across the country will likely continue to reject the TABOR straightjacket.