Crist: Victory imminent on property taxes
Gov. Charlie Crist is already proclaiming victory on property taxes. The governor just wrapped up news conference in which he outlined the framework of a deal he crafted and the Legislature enhanced.
"The people of Florida will vote Jan. 29, and that's very exciting to me," Crist said. "That's a glorious thing, to give the people that power."
The plan has not changed from yesterday. It includes doubling the homestead exemption, making Save Our Homes portable and giving a 25 percent reduction on just value for first-time home buyers, along with tax breaks for low-income seniors and owners of affordable housing and waterfront commercial property.
Crist seemed to take on House Speaker Marco Rubio's criticism yesterday that the savings were underwhelming, disappointing, unsatisfying -- pick a word, Rubio used many, even as he endorsed the concept as a good first start. (The Crist media event came as Rubio talked with mortgage brokers at the Tallahassee restaurant Chez Pierre.)
A poster board showed the average person in 2008 would save $412, including the already-passed rollback. Portability would provide $1,091 in savings next year and a first-time home buyer would get a $853 break. "It's real money," Crist said. "It matters to people."
On Rubio's comments, Crist said: "I love his passion. If he didn't have that kind of strength as it relates to pushing the envelope and continuing to push and continuing to encourage, we wouldn't be where we are now."
Crist gushed with praise for top lawmakers, including Rubio -- "He has shown great leadership" -- Senate President Ken Pruitt and the top two Democrats, Sen. Steve Geller and Rep. Dan Gelber.
"It's unique what's happening here," Crist said of the broad support for the deal. One minor twist that ultimately means little: The current session will not be extended. Instead a new one will be called. But it will also begin on Friday.