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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Realtors tout 'Amendment 1 on steroids'



Attkissonjpg_3The Florida Association of Realtors this morning launched its campaign to pass Amendment 5, touting deep property tax cuts while accusing critics of spreading "myths" about the plan.

"This is the biggest form of major property tax relief the citizens of Florida will have ever seen," said Rep. Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee, who joined the Realtors in Tallahassee.

"This is Amendment 1 on steroids," added the Realtors' John Sebree, standing before a banner bearing the address of the group's new Web site, (photo: Sebree looks on as Attkisson takes a question from a reporter)

The plan calls for eliminating most school property taxes for a savings of at least 25 percent and as much as 40 percent. For Realtors, that could move a lot of houses and it's why they have pledged at least $1-million to passing the amendment in November.

The Legislature would have to come up with $9 billion or more for schools by increasing the sales tax 1-cent and picking from a menu of other options. The menu includes eliminating current sales tax exemptions, creating new revenue and cutting other areas of the state budget

Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who joined the news conference by phone, acknowledged a tax on services is not politically feasible. "I will work hard in the Legislature to make sure that we never ever never see a sales tax on services," said Rouson, who was a member of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission that crafted the proposal.

The funding uncertainty scares school officials and has given ammunition to Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and others who are fighting the proposal.

Realtors blasted opponents for spreading "myths" including that the sales tax will hurt the poor more than others.

"Necessary goods and services are exempt from a higher sales tax," the Web site states. "These include unprepared food, rent, heating fuel, medicine, electricity and health care services."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:02am]


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