Legislature fails to devise a tax cut plan

10/18/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Instead of wrapping up plans on a property tax cut this morning, the Florida Legislature instead threw in the towel, saying they’ll come back on Monday to try to again to craft a new constitutional amendment.

House Speaker Marco Rubio spoke briefly this morning to the entire House. He said serious work has been done this week, and gave rare praise to his Democratic colleagues whose proposals won serious consideration.

One Democrat plan would give all homesteaders an exemption equal to 40 percent of the median home value in a given county – but homeowners would retain their Save Our Homes protection that caps rises in their assessments at 3 percent a year.

Altamonte Republican David Simmons said there had been amendments added to that provision, but he hoped to have them all stripped from the final bill.

Analysts say that the tide for getting a bill done this week was thwarted when the House, on a bi-partisan amendment co-sponsored by Key West Democrat Ron Saunders, would have extended the Save our Homes exemption to all property in the state.

Another plan proposed in the House but rejected in the Senate would have been to raise the sales tax 1 cent, and use the savings to lower the local property taxes that support public schools.

Rubio said at some point on Friday, all House members would get a copy of the House’s plan, to give representatives the weekend to review it.

Another source of disagreement between the two legislative bodies was exempting low income seniors from paying any property tax. The House wanted a complete exemption while the Senate wanted to exempt only the first $100,000 of assessed value.

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