1996 Augus⁠t⁠ – Backgrounder #19 – Publ⁠i⁠c Subs⁠i⁠d⁠i⁠es ⁠t⁠o Pr⁠i⁠va⁠t⁠e Corpora⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ons: S⁠t⁠op V⁠i⁠ola⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ng ⁠t⁠he Flor⁠i⁠da Cons⁠t⁠⁠i⁠⁠t⁠u⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on!

By: The James Madison Institute / 1996

Executive Summary

Over the past several years there has been a marked increase in Florida (and nationally) in the variety and amount of government subsidies going to private, for-profit businesses; that is, corporate welfare.
These inappropriate handouts of taxpayer funds – always justified in the name of economic development – have financed such private ventures in Florida as office parks, rental apartments, tourist and convention-oriented businesses, the relocation of manufacturing facilities, and sports teams and stadiums.
The state constitution contains a clear and unambiguous clause (Article 7 Section 10) that explicitly prohibits the use of public money for such private purposes.
A review of cases dating back more than 100 years shows that Florida courts traditionally upheld the various provisions of the state constitution designed to put limits on the power of government to spend tax dollars.
Since the Linscott case in 1983, however, abuses of government power and authority have all but been ignored by the Florida judiciary. In fact, Florida courts have exhibited a disturbing propensity to bow to what they have perceived as economic imperatives and to disregard explicit provisions of the state constitution.
The problem of public subsidies to private corporations cries out for a solution. In Florida, fortunately, there is a powerful tool at our disposal: the state constitution. Somehow, we need to get lawmakers and the judiciary to abide by the rule of law and to follow the dictates of that document.