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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida House would make it harder for school districts to pass tax referenda



While the Florida House Appropriations Committee made a show of its efforts to restrict school districts' construction spending, the chamber's Local and Federal Affairs Committee took quieter steps to make it harder for districts to win added revenue for building and capital projects.

With no discussion or debate, the panel unanimously agreed to send to the floor HB 791, which would require districts to win 60 percent voter approval for local tax referenda held during primary elections. Those held during general elections would require a simple majority.

In recent years, school districts increasingly have looked to voters to authorize local sales tax increases to help pay for new schools, additions and renovations. Some districts additionally have held votes to increase their local property taxes to boost their general operating funds.

Under HB 791, districts would face a higher hurdle for passage in certain cases, in addition to stricter guidelines for when they may hold such elections. The proposed legislation would bar special elections for local tax measures.

Organizations representing Florida's counties and cities, which also would be affected, signaled their support for the bill, which next heads to the House floor. A Senate companion has yet to be heard in committee.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 1:01pm]


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