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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate: Reduce property tax load on schools and call it a tax cut



As work on a new state budget moves forward, Senate leaders are crafting a plan that would reduce the burden on local property taxpayers to pay for a boost in school funding, and make it part of Gov. Rick Scott's call for $1 billion in tax cuts.

Scott's call for a "historic" increase in K-12 funding relies overwhelmingly on growth in the value of businesses and homes, which means higher property tax bills. Some Republicans say this is a tax increase.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who chairs the Senate budget subcommittee for education, said his panel would consider several alternatives early next week, including replacing local property taxes with state tax revenue. Gaetz said 88 percent of Scott's proposed increase in school spending would come from property taxes and the goal should be 50 percent, which would carry s a price tag of $254 million, more than one-quarter of Scott's tax cut target.

"Our committee is concerned that the governor's proposal offloads 88 percent of (the increase in) education funding onto local property taxpayers," Gaetz said. "This notion of tipping the balance and sending 88 percent of the bill to local taxpayers is a problem." Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told reporters he supports the concept — which would take a major chunk out of Scott's call for $1 billion in business-friendly tax relief.

Scott told reporters Friday he had not seen the Senate proposal and could not comment on it, and he renewed his call for $1 billion in tax cuts.

[Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2016 11:14am]


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