Reaction to Florida Property Tax Cut Plan

06/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Less than 24 hours after the Florida Legislature passed a tax reform package that will bring some tax relief to homeowners next year, Republicans are hailing the move, while Democrats are bashing it.

The Tax cut – originally estimated to be over 31 and a half million dollars, but now scaled down to 24 billion, will reduce local-government revenues anywhere from 3 percent to 9 percent and limit future growth to population plus household income.

And it will allow citizens next January to decide to have the option of trading in their popular Save Our Homes tax protection for a supersized homestead brake that would exempt up to $195,000 in tax value from a $500,000 home.

The man with perhaps the most at stake on this issue, Florida Governor, hailed yesterday’s vote, and began campaigning for that Constitutional Amendment now (roll tape#1 o.q.”continue to boom”)

But the tax cut comes at a price –potentially less revenue for local schools and government services, and the loss of the current Save Our Homes tax lid.

Sarasota House Democrat Keith Fitzgerald calls it bad public policy (roll tape#2 o.q.”ever going to be made up”)

The original cut in education was estimated at 7 billion dollars. But with a change in policy yesterday allowing each homeowner the option of maintaining their Save Our Homes Exemption, or voting for the Supersize exemption, GOP State Senator Daniel Webster says that deficit may be down to 3 ½ billion dollars.

Pinellas /Hillsborough State Senator Charlie Justice says he and his fellow Democrats didn’t appreciate the change made by Webster on Thursday to give homeowners the option of keeping their current exemption or going to the new one (roll tape#3 o.q.”gonna be”_)

Justice’s complaints about being in the dark echo those of Sarasota Representative Keith Fitzgerald (roll tape#4 o.q.”discussed”)

But Tampa GOP Representative Trey Traviesa says that’s hogwash (roll tape#5 oq..”to accomplish”)

St Petersburg Democrat Rick Kriseman told the St. Petersburg Times that he wished lawmakers had looked for more creative ways to fund local governments so that cutting taxes could have been done without cutting school funding. Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald said he would have started by looking at the uneven tax breaks distributed to corporations in the state (roll tape#6 o.q.”to start the conversation”)

Although there has been criticism for the tax cut plan not helping out those who own 2nd homes or other properties, or small business owners, The National Federation of Independent Business, which calls itself the state’s leading small business advocacy group, heralded a portion of the legislation which exempts the first $25,000 of tangible personal property tax.

Tampa GOP representative Trey Traviesa said that provision, and the other more notable ones, helps out EVERYBODY in the state (roll tape#7 o.q.”their probably should be”)

But Hillsborough & Pinellas Democratic Senator Charlie Justice says the state neglected to take care of various groups, including so called snowbirds (roll tape#8 o.q.”small apartments”)

As local governments prepare to cut their budgets, anywhere from 3 to 9 percent, there will be tremendous pressure NOT to cut police or firefighters. But Justice says that may not be possible in some municipalities (roll tape#9 o.q. in Pinellas County”

Every registered voter in the state will get to weigh in on whether or not to include Supersize tax exemptions of their homes next January. However, that vote will require a 60% majority of voters support.

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