Crist stumps in Tampa for property tax amendment

10/31/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Gov. Charlie Crist visited a South Tampa home today to promote the property tax reduction resolution that will appear on the state’s Jan. 29 presidential primary ballot.

The proposed constitutional amendment has been criticized from two sides.

Some people have said the tax cut is not enough and that includes people who cannot claim a homestead exemption, such as snowbirds and first-time homebuyers who will not benefit much at all.

On the other hand, some local government officials and teachers unions think that the tax cuts would result in job losses and not enough funds for schools.

Crist answered the first group by saying that more tax cuts are coming next year.

If passed, the amendment is expected to result in cuts of $12-billion in the first five years from county, city, special district and school board budgets.

The Florida Education Association is preparing to campaign against the proposed property tax cut. FEA president Andy Ford says if voters approve the plan, public education will lose between $1.8-billion and $3-billion over five years.

But Crist said Floridians have a simple choice to make in January.

If 60 percent of voters vote yes on the proposed constitutional amendment, the average Florida homeowner could see a reduction in property taxes of $240 per year because the state’s homestead exemption would double from $25,000 to $50,000.

The proposed amendment also makes the Save Our Homes cap on property tax increases for homesteaded properties portable, so that people who move from one house to another can keep their benefits. That appeals to the host of today’s press conference, South Tampa homeowner Stanley Fields.

Combined with the $15-billion property tax cut the Legislature approved in June, homeowners in Florida will save an average of $414 per year, if the amendment passes.

State Rep. Bill Heller, a Democrat representing District 52 says he will vote for the resolution but it does not contain all of the things he thinks the state needs for comprehensive tax reform.

The previous round of tax cuts mandated by the state Legislature severely affected the budgets of local governments.

Learn more:

Rep. Bill Heller

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