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The last thing we need right now is Amendment 4

With Florida’s unemployment hovering around 12 percent, a recent economic announcement in Tallahassee revealed disturbing news about a proposed amendment to our state’s constitution that could make matters far worse.  

According to Tony Villamil, founder of the Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group and former economic advisor to President George H. W. Bush and later to Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the passage of Amendment 4 would “have potentially devastating consequences to Florida’s economy at a time when the economic situation at both the state and national levels is uncertain and at a time when attracting new businesses to Florida is essential for the future recovery and prosperity of the state and its residents.”

Villamil’s study, which forecasts severe job loss if the Amendment were to pass, clearly shows that the long-term effect of Amendment 4 is the continuation of Florida’s current economic crisis.  Furthermore, Villamil states it is likely to result in a “steady decline in the standard of living for all Florida residents.”

When recently asked about Villamil’s study, Beth Willet, an ardent proponent of the Amendment replied “the jobs that opponents are saying will be lost are construction jobs.” To be sure, nearly 38 percent of the estimated 267,247 jobs to be lost are in the construction industry, however, 34 percent are in the knowledge-based service industry, and the remaining 28 percent are distributed among other sectors of the Florida economy.  In this time of economic recession and fiscal decline, preventing job loss and facilitating job growth is crucial for the full recovery of Florida’s economy.  Our state simply cannot afford for Amendment 4 supporters to flippantly dismiss job loss in any sector of our economy.

Certainly, the need to attract industries with diverse, high-paying jobs, particularly in the knowledge-based services sector is of the utmost importance.  Unfortunately, Amendment 4 will deal a death blow to our state’s economy and punish businesses that seek to create jobs in Florida by adding extraordinary new layers of cost and uncertainty to an already complicated process.  Similarly, efforts to diversify our economy by adding new, high-paying jobs will be in jeopardy as leading national and regional companies steer clear of Florida’s disruptive business climate.  Companies such as Scripps and Max Planck—which required comprehensive plan amendments prior to moving to Florida—may choose to relocate to other states and take their high paying jobs elsewhere.

Unable to argue with the merits of Villamil’s study, Amendment 4 proponents can only insist that the economic report is theoretical.  However, the patent proof that Amendment 4 is a disaster can be found right here in Florida.  A local version of this measure was adopted in the small town of St. Pete Beach four years ago.  Since then, the city has found itself embroiled in numerous costly, tax-payer funded lawsuits that, according to the town’s former Mayor, Ward Friszolowski, have turned St. Pete Beach into a “battleground for special interests,” and “caused extraordinary damage to our economy.” View details here.

The facts unmistakably confirm that a proposal as misguided and ill-timed as Amendment 4 has no place in our state’s constitution.  Floridians should vote no on Amendment 4.


Dan Lindblade, CAE


Posted by: Dan Lindblade @ 3:30:11 pm  Comments (0)
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