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Florida Republicans seek cap on property taxes

TALLAHASSEE — Republicans in the Florida House are trying to cut taxes further, even if their plan is doomed for now.

Unsatisfied with recent efforts to cut property taxes, the House today is poised to pass several proposals, including one that would cap property taxes at 1.35 percent of taxable value.

But with an unwilling partner in the Senate, the plan stands virtually no shot at becoming more than a campaign slogan in November elections.

"You have a fatal attraction for sound bites," said the House Democratic leader, Rep. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach.

Republicans said the 1.35 percent plan is headed for the November 2010 ballot as a citizen initiative, so why not give voters a chance to weigh in early?

"Whether or not we do this today, it's going to happen," predicted Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, the bill's sponsor.

Supporters say they have gathered 150,000 signed petitions; they need more than 600,000.

The House plan would limit property taxes on any type of property to 1.35 percent of taxable value, effectively lowering millage rates statewide. Advocates say it would save $5.9-billion next year.

Democrats wondered when the tax-cutting frenzy would end, since the Legislature has forced a rollback of property taxes and approved the Amendment 1 proposal voters enacted in January.

Not wanting to revisit the explosive setting that hatched those plans, Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, said this year that he does not want to pursue more tax legislation.

Pruitt's posture has drawn a sharp response of a St. Petersburg citizen group, Cut Property Taxes Now.

The organization has been running radio ads in Pruitt's district urging him to take up the 1.35 percent plan.

Florida Republicans seek cap on property taxes 04/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:16pm]
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