Tampa Tiger Bay Club - Sen. Justice, Rep. Holman, Rep. Reed
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06/29/07 Seán Kinane
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Three state lawmakers who represent the Tampa Bay region were the featured speakers at today’s Tiger Bay Club in downtown Tampa. Senator Charlie Justice, Representatives Ed Holman and Betty Reed spoke about the subject on everyone’s mind … the recent property tax cut passed by the state legislature. WMNF’s Sean Kinane has this report.

In a special session earlier this month, the Florida Legislature passed two measures to reduce property taxes. The first mandated that all cities and counties roll back their general fund budgets to last year’s amount and then cut as much as nine percent more. The effects of these budget cuts are beginning to be felt, with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio announcing yesterday that over 300 city positions would be eliminated. The second act by the legislature was to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next January, which, if passed by the voters, will give homeowners the choice of taking what is called a “super homestead exemption” to their property taxes.

State Senator Charlie Justice, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, explained why he and most other Democrats voted for the property tax cut and voted against the constitutional amendment.

“We voted for a rate freeze, a rate roll-back, and a cut. That was $15 Billion of property taxes …”

Representative Betty Reed, a Democrat from Tampa, said she is opposed to the constitutional amendment.

“ … [re: amendment] I’ll vote no and I’ll continue to urge my constituents to vote no.”

Reed said that one reason she opposes the constitutional amendment is that would give a larger tax break to people with more expensive homes.

ACT Reed

The Republican Party of Florida is targeting some Democrats because they voted against the constitutional amendment. The Republican Party mailed flyers to voters in the districts of some Democratic representatives accusing them of voting against tax cuts. Senator Justice responded to those attacks.

“I talked to Rep. Heller and Rep. Long in Pinellas County and they had attack mailers done on them. I think people are so tired of this. I came through one of the nastiest campaigns in Florida history. People are just tired of this. Let’s raise the dialog. Let’s have a real discussion on that. The mislead the voters with this brochure. Democrats supported over $15 B of tax cuts. Mislead and it’s just nasty. I think we need to raise the dialog.”

WMNF asked Senator Justice how he felt about the property tax cuts resulting in the City of Tampa announcing they were eliminating over 300 positions.

“I don’t think it’s our role to get into ‘no, you should have cut this department over that department’…”

Republican Representative Ed Homan from Tampa supported the cuts to property taxes. He said that the reason that cities like Tampa have to cut their budgets so much is that their budgets have risen a lot in the last few years.

“When Mayor Iorio was running for Mayor, I wonder if she would have been elected if she had said …”

Representative Reed said she would look at where the lay-offs in Tampa occurred to make sure that city services to the people of her East Tampa district were not disproportionately affected.

“But I do plan next week to talk to the Mayor …”

All three lawmakers said they hoped the legislature would extend for one year the requirement that drivers carry insurance called Personal Injury Protection or PIP. There will probably be a special session to address the PIP question before October first when the PIP law expires.

To find out more about the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa, visit their website, tigerbayclub dot com .

For WMNF News, I’m Sean Kinane

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Tiger Bay Club, Tampa

Sen. Charlie Justice, D

Rep. Ed Homan, R

Rep Betty Reed, D

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