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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Failure isn't the end for tax cap idea



Backers of a 1.35 percent property tax cap failed to get enough signatures for the November ballot, but the idea may not be dead.

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said Monday he will introduce the idea as a bill for the upcoming legislative session.

“My No. 1 concern is let’s treat everyone equally,” Bennett said. “This has great possibility.”

The proposal would restrict taxes to 1.35 percent of the taxable value of any parcel, including commercial property. Modeled after California’s Proposition 13, it would effectively limit millage rates to 13.5 percent statewide.

The homestead exemption and Save Our Homes assessment cap would remain.

Supporters say it would cut property taxes by $8 billion in the first year alone and reduce property tax collections by 26 percent statewide.

The proposal has strong support from House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and others who feel the Amendment 1 tax cut that passed last Tuesday did not go far enough.

Whether it gets any traction is another question.

Lawmakers struggled for most of last year on ways to cut property taxes and there may be little room for more. Cities, counties and schools have already been forced to cut billions — twice.

First in a rollback that went into effect last fall and will cut $15-billion over five years, and then the $9.3-billion Amendment 1 is projected to cut over the same period.

Organizers, however, say there is a clear desire for more.

“The legislators have seen there is an appetite for tax cuts and they’ve seen local government cannot scare voters away,” said David McKalip, a St. Petersburg doctor who is one of the forces behind the proposal.”

Advocates launched an effort late last year to collect the more than 611,000 signatures to put the idea before voters. They now have about 135,000. Signatures are good for four years, so the 2010 ballot is reachable.

But the Legislature could fast-track it by putting it on the ballot this year.

-- Alex Leary

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:09pm]


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