I just read a comment on how someone was planning to vote on the Florida Constitutional amendments that are on the ballot this year. The comment suggested to vote No on 2 and yes to the rest. While I'm all for voting No on 2, the so called Gay Marriage ban amendment, yes to the rest gave me some pause.
You see, there is one other amendment that progressives should consider voting no on. As unlikely as that may seem, that one is Amendment 8, the Local Option Community College Funding amendment. While it might seem counter intuitive for progressives to vote against higher education funding, bear with me while I explain my thinking on this.
First, let me say that I am an ardent supporter of expanding higher education opportunities in Florida. I received an AA degree along my educational trail from a community college, so I understand how important they can be.
I am also an ardent supporter of mass transportation, however, and I see Amendment 8 as a possible impediment to the implementation of viable mass transit systems throughout Florida. The reasoning for this is the way that local commuter and light rail systems are typically funded.
Most rail transit systems, and the ones that are being proposed in Florida, are financed by a partnership between local, state and the federal governments. The Central Florida Commuter Rail Project and the nascent TBARTA effort in the Tampa Bay region will both require local funding sources for completion.
Both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are considering adding a one cent local option sales tax for mass transit funding. Pinellas already has the Penny for Pinellas local option sales tax as its seventh cent of sales tax. If a community college sales tax penny is added, that would make the transportation penny proposal the NINTH cent of sales tax. I'm very much afraid that would be a penny too far for local voters to swallow.
There are plenty of other options for state of funding community colleges. Local governments are severely limited in their funding sources fortheir portion of mass transit.
If you want to see mass transit in Florida, vote NO on amendment 8.