House passes tax bill 108-2
The House passed its revised property tax bill 108-2 after hours of debate but with few of the sharp partisan differences that have marked past negotiations. A cheer went through the chamber at 8:14 p.m. as the vote was announced.
Democrats Curtis Richardson and Loranne Ausley, both of Tallahassee, cast dissenting votes after expressing concern about the impact to schools and poor communities. Other Democrats share that sentiment, but voted 'yes' anyway, hoping to improve the Legislation in negotiations with the Senate.
House Speaker Marco Rubio played down differences with the Senate but underscored the leverage produced by a nearly unanimous vote.
"We put it through a pretty rigorous test here in the House ... a chamber where every imaginable constituency in Florida is represented and it passed. It passed overwhelmingly.”
The question now is when -- and if -- the Senate will debate the plan. The Senate passed a different proposal last week and Republican leaders think the House broke an agreement over the parameters of the special session. Senate President Ken Pruitt told members Monday not to expect to return until Thursday, at the earliest -- a less than encouraging sign.
Even some Democrats wonder if the differences can be overcome. Sen. Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, said there are too many unknowns about the House plan, especially the 5 percent cap, and not enough time to consider them. "There are no mulligans, no do-overs," he said. "And right now, I don't think we have it right. I think we have to pull the plug."