Senate coming back Monday, hopeful for deal
UPDATE: The House will go back into session at 11 a.m. Monday, leaders said.
Senate President Ken Pruitt just sent out a memo expressing hope over ending the property tax stalemate. He called Senate back into session 9 a.m. Monday. Today, the Senate is expected to finish a financial analysis of its own plan as well an estimate of the House's proposed 5 percent assessment cap on nonhomestead property.
The goal, Pruitt wrote, is to release a proposed constitutional amendment on Sunday. Still unknown: What the proposal could include and whether it will be a deal with the House or simply another Senate version. A cap is in play, clearly, but how will senators react if the financial implications are huge?
"I can tell you Senate Democrats will not be voting for a 5 percent cap in its current form," Sen. Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, told the Buzz.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said failing to put something before voters Jan. 29 will have major political implications. "If we don’t accomplish something now, many of us won’t be returning in 2008, regardless of political affiliation."
Writes Pruitt: "A particular challenge was to determine whether the professional staff could produce accurate numbers and legal analyses for a cap on assessments – with only a few days until the end of the Special Session. ... The professional staffs in the Senate Finance & Tax and Judiciary Committees are working, literally, around the clock to provide us with the tools that we need to make informed decisions.
Based on the progress they have made, it is my opinion that we will have the necessary information to proceed. After consultation with Majority Leader Webster and Minority Leader Geller, I am asking you to return to Tallahassee to reconvene in Special Session on Monday, October 29, 2007, at 9:00 a.m.
Later today, we plan to have finalized numbers on the fiscal impact analysis of SJR 2 as passed by the Senate, and as it returned from the House. We will also send a document that shows a more accurate estimate of the ten year fiscal impact of a 5% cap on commercial and non-homestead residential.
It is my hope that we will have a proposed amendment and accompanying fiscal impact estimate for your review by Sunday afternoon. We will e-mail the information and then make phone calls notifying you when it is sent.
Once again, thank you for your patience and your strong willingness to continue working hard to provide a property tax relief and reform proposal that will be acceptable to Florida voters this January.