Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crist Urges Property Tax Cut Vote; Proposed Amendment Would Double State's Homestead Exemption

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crist Urges Property Tax Cut Vote; Proposed Amendment Would Double State's Homestead Exemption

Article excerpt

Byline: J. TAYLOR RUSHING

TALLAHASSEE -- Popularity and reality intersected Tuesday for Gov. Charlie Crist as he rolled out a four-point plan to lower property taxes but a leading Democrat suggested he may try to block it out of liability concerns.

Crist made good on one of his most aired promises from the gubernatorial campaign trail -- calling for a special election this fall on a four-in-one constitutional amendment that would:

-- Double the state's homestead exemption to $50,000.

-- Allow homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes tax cap status if they move.

-- Impose a 3 percent growth cap on business and rental property.

-- Exempt businesses from paying tax on tangible personal property such as office equipment.

Crist wants legislators to hash out the ideas this spring and send voters the proposed amendment.

"People are screaming for relief," he said.

Those ideas have been making the rounds in Tallahassee for years but gained new momentum with Crist's election in November and several public statements last week such as support from House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami. Republicans said they are trying to stop runaway taxing and spending by city and county governments, while local officials say they are being "villainized" for a situation state leaders largely created by continually starving communities of revenue.

"There's a misperception that county governments are bringing in all this money and spending it wildly," said Kriss Vallese, spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Counties.

Crucial Democratic support may be a problem for Crist. Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller said he may try to mobilize the 14 Democrats in the 40-member Senate against Crist's proposal. If 11 went against the plan, it would be enough to kill it because the House and Senate both have to approve proposed amendments by a three-fourths vote. …

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