Florida to appeal ruling on ballot amendment

09/26/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced today that the state will appeal a court ruling throwing out the proposed Constitutional Amendment to increase the homestead exemption.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Francis called the language of the proposed amendment, "misleading and confusing."

Still no word regarding whether the state Legislature, will attempt to reword the amendment and perhaps expand on giving homeowners a bigger exemption.

There had been a conflict between state Senate President Ken Pruitt, and Speaker of the House Marco Rubio about what to do next.

Rubio said Tuesday night that the Legislature has been given an unexpected opportunity to now reduce people’s property taxes even further.

If the Legislature is to do that, lawmakers must act swiftly. To get on the ballot in January, the amendment must go to the Secretary of State’s office by Oct. 28.

Mike Fasano is a Republican state senator from New Port Richey. He agrees that a special session can re-create an amendment that gives more Floridians property tax relief.

In the last few weeks, every city and county government in Florida has approved fiscal year budgets for 2008. Significant cuts have been made in social service and other programs, and municipal employees have lost their jobs.

But public safety positions have taken little, if any of those hits. As far as Fasano is concerned, local governments have cried wolf, but he says they could still cut further.

But local officials say that’s an unfair criticism.

In Tampa, 120 city employees will be umemployed beginning next week. City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern says state legislators don’t have to deal with that.

Recent polls show the now proposed constitutional amendment – which would grant homestead exemptions of up to $195,000 on homes up to $500,000 – was already in trouble now that state law dictates such proposals get 60 percent support.

But lawmakers have been hearing from their constiuents that, as currently, written, not enough property owners will feel sufficient tax relief.

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