One of the hallmarks of Charlie Crist’s single term as Florida’s Governor is a continued erosion of the rights of municipalities and counties. The concept of “home rule” is an old one, and one that has traditionally been Republican. In fact, Republican candidates throughout the country are continuously talking about state’s rights and the encroaching powers of the federal government.
In Florida, the issue is the continued consolidation of power in Tallahassee and its encroachment on home rule. The single individual most responsible for the continued expansion of Tallahassee’s powers is none other than Republican Governor Charlie Crist.
Crist’s latest move, a veto which stripped Jacksonville’s City Council of its right to pass a sales tax surtax with a two-thirds vote of the City Council put Jacksonville in a position that is fundamentally unfair. According to the Florida Times-Union, every other county in the state is able to levy surtaxes without voter referrendum, other than the one other consolidated government in Florida—Miami-Dade. Miami-Dade had worked out a fix for their issue, Crist has now vetoed Jacksonville’s, which places funding for indigent health care in serious jeopardy. Once again, Charlie Crist has placed his own personal political ambitions over the rights of local governments to determine their own sources of revenue.
Jacksonville, and indeed cities and counties throughout the state, has continued to suffer from continued unfunded mandates from Tallahassee. All the while, Governor Crist and the Legislature have moved to repeatedly strip power from local governments. It’s time for Florida to return to the uniquely American concept of home rule. Tallahassee needs to allow Jacksonville to handle its own affairs. We may struggle with that, yes, but voters can then hold local politicians responsible for those failures.