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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: 'We just missed an opportunity'



House Speaker Marco Rubio is holding a conference call with reporters and opened with his disappointment over the Senate tax plan that passed yesterday. "We just missed an opportunity," he said, touting the House plan as more thoughtful and fairer to all property owners.

"Ultimately what we got back was nothing near what we thought was the best," he said. The House had a different approach to the homestead exemption and called for a 5 percent cap on nonhomestead property. The Senate plan doubled the homestead exemption and includes a 10 percent cap.

The stripped-down Senate proposal, released Sunday afternoon, was based in large part on what would pass on Jan. 29. And a Qunnipiac poll last week confirmed the wisdom of including the double homestead exemption and Save Our Homes portability.

But Rubio faulted policy by poll. "I don't think Martin Luther King took polls before he led the civil rights movement," he said. That sounds like an indictment of Sen. Dan Webster and others, but Rubio said that was not the case.

Concluding the Legislature is done with property taxes, Rubio said the best reform will have to come from "the citizens themselves," adding he would like to get involved in a petition drive. "There's a lot more work to do and I hope I can be part of it." He acknowledged shortcomings with such an approach, however, including that the ballot question be limited to a single subject.

He said he had talked with various petition organizers (there are at least three plans in play) but had not studied the best approach. He ruled out the possibility of getting something on the November 2008 ballot.

The Miami Republican said he would not campaign against the plan that passed yesterday, invoking the popularity of portability. But he also said he would not campaign for it, leaving that up to Gov. Charlie Crist.

As for the proposal reaching 60 percent approval at the polls, Rubio sounded less than confident. "I think it will probably pass but I don't think you'll see a lot of enthusiasm for it. ... There's no reason to vote against it."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:24am]


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