Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alhough very watered down from the inital proposals the legislature quickly passed the proposed the tax reform. Luckily, they preservered the Save our homes, as an option, or the "super exemption", which is really not that super unless you own a home that you recently bought, and that is less than 400k, and you plan to sell the property at some time in the near future. this should create some major press tommorow.

From the Miami Herald

Legislature passes property tax cut proposal

BY MARC CAPUTO TALLAHASSEE -- The state Legislature just passed the biggest property-tax cut in state history, immediately rolling back and capping local-government spending and asking voters to supersize homeowner tax exemptions. Eight days ahead of schedule, lawmakers ended the special session at 6:26 p.m. shortly after the House, by a party-line 74-43 vote, passed the proposed constitutional amendment for the tax exemptions. The outcome of the two-step plan was largely a foregone conclusion Thursday morning, with only one real question remaining: Would Senate Democrats agree to put amendment on the Jan. 29 ballot? They did, despite the urging of Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller. He wanted the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2008 general election ballot, figuring more independent voters and Democrats are likely to show then and vote against it. To make the amendment more palatable to voters, Republicans changed it so it wouldn't force homeowners into the new tax system and lose their Save Our Homes tax cap. That would reduce the five-year anticipated tax savings to about $9 billion, down from $16 billion. Regardless, Republicans said the point was made, and the cuts are real. ''We're putting up a stop sign for local government,'' said Rep. Frank Attkisson, a Kissimmee Republican. Democrats in both chambers bashed the constitutional amendment, saying it primarily helps homeowners -- rather than owners of other types of real estate -- and cuts too much from schools: $7.2 billion over four years. Nevertheless, House Democrats joined the vote for the Jan. 29 election date, cast a party-line vote for the amendment itself and a near-unanimous vote for the rollback-and-cap plan. Rep. Jim Waldman, a Coconut Creek Democrat, cast the lone dissent in the 117-1 vote. Voting no is ''the right thing to do. What they're proposing is to devastate local government,'' the freshman lawmaker said, calling the Legislature ''hypocritical'' for raising school property-taxes in next year's budget while cutting those taxes for local government. Said Senate President Ken Pruitt: ``If [local governments] allowed it to get to that point, that a $15 billion hit -- or even a $30 billion hit -- is going to bankrupt your community and projects are going to stop and this is the end of the good life as we know it, then you've got some real explaining to do to your local constituents.'' Sen. Mike Haridopolos, a Melbourne Republican, acknowledged the proposal isn't ``perfect. You'll never get one of those out of Tallahassee.'' But he pointed out the plan gives deep tax relief, helps solve the portability issue and ultimately leaves voters in charge of approving the constitutional amendment. Republicans also changed the plan to allow people to keep their existing protection under the Save Our Homes provision. Originally, the proposed constitutional amendment sought to phase out Save Our Homes and force homeowners from enjoying its protections if they benefited from the new system. The new system would supersize homestead exemptions, giving homeowners a 75 percent write-off on their first $200,000 in market-based ''just value'' and an additional 15 percent write-off on the next $300,000. Earlier in this week's special session on property taxes, Democrats made much of the fact that Save Our Homes would disappear for some, but that their tax-assessment increases could be greater in future years. But Democrats opposed the fix when it was brought up Thursday morning. Sen. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, said the new proposal exemplified all that was wrong with the tax bill's secretive, last-minute changes sprung on the public. Deutch pointed out that no one knew what the cost of the fix would be. But Republican Sen. Don Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach marveled at the ''role reversal,'' with Democrats fighting something they once appeared to support. Earlier in the day, he said Democrats just opposed tax reform regardless of what was proposed. With the exception of Waldman, Gaetz was wrong. Democrats voted for the $15.6 billion in tax cuts from the rollbacks.

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