Senate President Mike Haridopolos responded Wednesday to criticism of the “Smart Cap” proposal he plans to pass during the first week of the upcoming legislative session. The law would limit the amount of revenue the state can collect.
Opponents of the measure have said it would tie lawmakers’ hands to deal with future conditions that might require them to raise more state revenue. Haridopolos said the latest version has been modified to allow lawmakers to deal with emergencies. It allows supermajorities of both houses to raise the cap, either permanently or temporarily.
He also noted another change to his proposal, removing direct limits on local government revenues. If the state revenue limit proves successful, he said, then it could be extended to local governments.
Opponents of the measure say tweaks don’t solve the fundamental problem with the measure: It would make state government less flexible. Nicholas Johnson of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities points to California, the paragon of fiscal dysfunction, where voters recently repealed a provision requiring a supermajority of lawmakers to pass a budget. The state still requires a supermajority to increase taxes, which has complicated the debate over its latest round of budget woes.
Haridopolos said he wanted to put more checks on future lawmakers’ ability to raise taxes. If they needed to for some reason, they could, but it would be more difficult.
“The Constitution is a limiting document on government,” he said. “You’re not supposed to extract rights from individuals. When you make more money from individuals, that’s extracting, in my opinion, their rights.”
Besides, he said, voters will have to approve the measure before it can become part of the state constitution.
Haridopolos’ comments in full: