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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist lauds 'the people's tax cut'



Gov. Charlie Crist just concluded a statewide conference call to win support for Amendment 1.

"This is the people's tax cut," he said, touting an increased homestead exemption (he continues to use the misleading "doubling") and Save Our Homes portability. "Even my own parents feel trapped in their home ... and they think about downsizing to a home that would be less expensive but they would lose obviously the 3 percent cap that's such a wonderful advantage from Save Our Homes."

Crist asked listeners -- we're still not sure how many were on call -- to vote by absentee ballot if they have one; to get friends and family to vote, early if possible; to visit the Yes on 1 Web site and to contribute to the campaign.

In a subsequent call with reporters, Crist defended his use of "doubling," saying it was "virtually that." The homestead increase does not apply to school levies, which account for about 40 percent of an average property tax bill.

He also said an internal poll, heretofore unpublicized, showed the measure exceeds the 60 percent threshold for passage.

He predicted local government officials who increase millage rates to offset lost revenue would pay a price.

"If local governments sort of try to game it like that, they will infuriate the electorate. And I would strongly recommend that they wouldn't do it or if they may find themselves voted out, which probably would be appropriate. ... I think the smarter thing to do, the right thing to do, when the amendment passes, is they should live within their means."

Crist said his budget proposal, due Feb. 4, would see an increase for public schools. The tax cut proposal would take about $1.5-billion from schools over five years, leading to opposition from the teachers union. "In addition, I just don't think the Legislature will back up on trying to do what's right for public education." He also said a successful Seminole gaming compact would bring in additional revenue.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:14pm]


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