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Amendments Five, Seven and Nine Off Ballot

By James Call


Tallahassee, FL – Florida educators are celebrating a Supreme Court decision throwing off the November ballots amendments 5, 7 and 9. Florida Education Association President Andy Ford released a statement within minutes of the court decision calling the ruling a victory for everyone in the state. James Call reports.

Nearly every education association and group in the state joined a coalition to fight amendment 7 and 9. FEA president Andy Ford says in rejecting the measures, the high court backed clear unambiguous constitutional amendments, not proposals that mask their true meaning. Opponents say amendment 7 was back door attempt to revive a voucher program already ruled unconstitutional. And Ron Meyer who represented the FEA before the court says because both 7 and 9 dealt with spending money the tax commission exceeded its authority to examine tax questions. Here Justice Raul Cantero gets Meyers to elaborate on that point.

The justices appeared intrigued by Meyers' argument they spent 45 minutes of a scheduled hour on the three amendments peppering Meyers and lawyers representing the state about the constitutional mandate to examine and the tax commission decision to propose 7 and 9 both of which dealt with spending.

Most in attendance at the Court Hearing though were there for the amendment 5 debate. It proposed eliminating the portion of property tax that pays for schools and leaving future funding for education up to the legislature. Businesses and educators opposed it. Businesses feared tax hikes to make up for the money lost. Educators predicted a cut in school funding. The argument against 5 was that the ballot title and summary was misleading. Here attorney Mark Herron, representing the state, fields a question from Justice Charles Well about whether it is clear that school funding would be stable if the amendments were to pass.

In a unanimous decision, Florida Supreme Court said yes. Amendments 5, 7, and 9 will not appear on the November ballot.