By Destin Chamber President & CEO Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP
The election on Nov. 3 is the biggest, most important election this country has ever faced. The political mood in the United States is unlike any I’ve ever experienced, and something I never thought I’d see. But lost in the shadows of the Presidential Election are several state and local issues that will also be on the ballot.
At the state level is Amendment 2, which, if passed, will take Florida’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next 5 years. The Destin Chamber has been working closely with the Florida Chamber to defeat this amendment. Our opposition to this increase in the minimum wage is multi-faceted.
Amendment 2 is effectively a tax increase; driving up inflation and dramatically increasing the cost of living, forcing seniors and working families to pay more for necessities like food, clothing and haircuts. Minimum wage sets a productivity standard that forces businesses to shift their workforce to more experienced workers. This will leave fewer jobs for entry-level workers leading to a decrease in job training and opportunities for students and those looking to re-enter the workforce. Amendment 2 would cause a rapid expansion of job automation – killing jobs. Part-time wage earners will see a dramatic reduction in paid hours and benefits as many businesses move operations to neighboring states for experienced labor at a more competitive rate. We encourage you to vote NO on Amendment 2.
At a more local level, there is an issue for city of Destin residents,
a City Charter Amendment that would place in the city’s charter a limitation on building heights to six stories or 75 feet. Anyone who wishes to have a building higher than that would have to wait for the next election, and the voters would decide whether to allow the building to be higher than 75 feet. This is a nefarious attempt to not only control development, but to stop it completely. It is also ludicrous that this be put into the City Charter; it should be handled legislatively. We encourage Destin residents to vote NO on this issue.
There is one ballot initiative on which we encourage you to vote YES. It’s the half-cent school tax, known as School Cents Makes Sense. While Okaloosa County’s school system consistently ranks as one of the best in the states, our facilities and infrastructure are well past needing updates. Our school buildings are the oldest in the state, HVAC systems often fail, roofs and walls leak with even the smallest of rain showers, and that’s just the beginning. There are also way too many students in portables, trying to learn in an environment that isn’t safe or effective. The half-cent tax would go to capital improvements only. No gyms or football fields will be built with this money. There will be a community oversight committee to oversee the money and how it is spent. It is more than needed. Again, we encourage you to vote YES on the half-cent school tax in Okaloosa County.
The final encouragement is to get out and vote. Your vote has never been as important as in 2020! This is the single greatest freedom that exists in the world – the right to vote. Go to the polls, or vote by mail. And make good, sound decisions on your ballot. After all, that’s how we’ll continue to build this world-class community one business at a time.