The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

1.35% cap, TABOR headed to House floor

15

April

UPDATE: The House council also passed a cap on local and state government revenue -- a Taxpayer Bill of Rights-like proposal that the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission wrestled with for weeks before failing to approve yesterday.

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The 1.35 percent property tax cap plan just passed the House Policy and Budget Council and is now headed to the full chamber.

"This citizen petition is going to be on the ballot in 2010," said Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the Miami Republican who sponsored the bill. "I believe it is incumbent upon us to give them the opportunity to vote on this two years early."

The plan would limit property taxes on any property -- homestead, snowbird, commercial, etc., -- to 1.35 percent of taxable value, or 13.5 mills. Lopez-Cantera said it would take government revenue levels back to 2006, and would save $5.9-billion next year.

But Democrats assailed the plan as hazy, since there is no estimate how much it would take from schools. "This is a lovely bumper sticker, but it doesn't have any flesh to it," said Rep. Shelly Vana of Lantana.

They worried, too, that it could further endanger Save Our Homes, by perpetuating inequities between properties with similar market values but different taxable values. Save Our Homes is already under a court challenge.

In a sign the issue could play out in November elections, all Democrats except Rep. Ron Saunders of Key West voted against the measure.

What happens on the floor is another story. Putting the plan on the ballot requires a three-fifths vote of the House. And the Senate version may not move at all, with Senate President Ken Pruitt not wanting to re-hash last year's divisive tax debate.

Republican lawmakers invoked dissatisfaction with the Amendment 1 plan voters approved in January and said it is time to do more. "Taxes have not yet dropped like a rock, and this bill  helps it get there," said Rep. Trey Traviesa of Tampa.

"Someone said this is a bumper sticker," Lopez-Cantera said in his closing. "It's not a bumper sticker. It is simple, though."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:51am]

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