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What is the Florida No-Aid Provision?
The No-Aid Provision grants Floridians important religious freedom protections. Since 1885, it has ensured that religion and government remain separate and that the government does not spend taxpayer dollars to aid religious institutions, education, or activities.
This provision puts all faiths on equal footing, protecting the religious freedom rights of all Floridians, regardless of religious belief. Florida’s No-Aid Provision, which is similar to provisions in 38 other state constitutions, provides Floridians even more protections than those provided under the U.S. Constitution. It empowers Floridians to make their own decisions about whether to support religion, and if so, which religions they would like to support. It also protects the integrity of Florida’s vibrant faith communities.
The History of The No-Aid Provision:
What is Proposal 4?
Proposal 4 would repeal the Florida No-Aid Provision, which protects religious freedom by ensuring that the government does not spend taxpayer dollars to aid religious entities and religious activities. Removing the No-Aid Provision could lead to a broad expansion of private school voucher programs in our state. Vouchers divert critical funding away from Florida public schools and direct it to unregulated schools operated by religious organizations that are allowed to discriminate and indoctrinate faith.
But Proposal 4 does a lot more. For example, Proposal 4 could strip away at the valuable safeguards that currently apply when the government partners with faith-based organizations to perform social services. These safeguards include the nondiscrimination protections that prohibit state-funded organizations from discriminating against employees based on religion or discriminating against the Floridians they serve.
Commissioner Roberto Martinez filed Proposal 4 on August 25, 2017. The Declaration of Rights Committee approved it in November by a vote of 5 - 1, and the Education Committee approved it in January by a vote of 8 - 0. It awaits a vote by the full Commission.
What is the Florida Uniform Public Education Provision?
The Florida Uniform Public Education Provision means that public dollars can only be used for public schools and not for private and religious schools. The law specifically says the State of Florida must make “adequate provision” for a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education…” In short, the provision protects our public schools and prevents the state from adopting a statewide private school voucher program that funds private religious schools.
The History of The Uniform Public Education Provision:
What is Proposal 45?
Proposal 45 would effectively repeal the Florida Uniform Public Education Provision to allow taxpayer dollars to fund private and religious educational programs. This proposal is designed to allow a sweeping expansion of private school voucher programs in our state. Voucher programs divert critical funding away from Florida public schools and direct it primarily to private religious schools that are allowed to discriminate against and proselytize to their students. Taxing Floridians to fund the religious education of others violates core principles of religious freedom.
Commissioner Erika Donalds filed Proposal 45 on October 30, 2017. The Education Committee approved it in January by a vote of 5 - 3. It awaits a vote by the full Commission.
Why do faith leaders oppose Proposals 4 and 45?
In Florida, the No-Aid Provision has helped religion thrive and remain independent from the State. It ensures taxpayer money will not be used to support religion and religious institutions. This provision protects the integrity and autonomy of houses of worship and also protects taxpayers from being forced to fund houses of worship and other religious institutions. Proposal 4 would end the longstanding protections afforded by the No-Aid Provision.
The Uniform Public Education Provision ensures that taxpayer dollars don’t fund private schools, including private religious schools. This protects the religious liberty of taxpayers and ensures that religious schools stay autonomous from the state. Proposal 45 would effectively repeal this provision and end these constitutional protections.
What is the Constitution Revision Commission?
Every 20 years, the Constitution Revision Commission convenes to review the Florida Constitution and propose constitutional amendments for the voters to consider. Unfortunately, the Commission, which is meeting over the next few months, is considering two proposals—Proposals 4 and 45—that would undermine religious liberty and our public schools.
If approved by the Commission, these proposals undermining religious liberty and our public schools will appear on the November 2018 General Election ballot. If approved by 60% of the voters, they will take effect and become part of our Florida Constitution. Now is the time to inform the Commissioner to reject Proposal 4 and Proposal 45, and keep these provisions off our ballot.
Now is the time to inform the Commission why the current constitutional provisions protect religious freedom and urge it to keep Proposal 4 and Proposal 45 off the ballot.
Read the CRC’s guide about itself here.