Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Save Our Homes Showdown

The House Government Efficiency & Accountability Council approved the Save Our Home amendment.

The new amendment would, among other things, double the $25,000 homestead exemption for most primary home owners; let current homestead owners bring some of their Save Our Homes benefit to a new dwelling; give new homestead owners an initial break on their tax bill; and wipe out property taxes for low-income seniors.

The House Government Efficiency & Accountability Council unanimously approved the package. The Senate's first formal vote is expected tomorrow.

The amendment then hit a snag.

Naked Politics reports that Florida Hose Democrats won't vote on the Property tax amendment until they find out what the economic impact of the amendment will be. House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber sent an email to Marco Rubio.

"Many of the members seem to be voting one way or the other in Policy and Budget under protest. Further, if approved, it is far apart from the Senate and the Governor. I would not plan on taking this to the floor before Friday. This will give members from both parties some time to digest the information presented and discussed at today's Policy and Budget Council meeting.

"I think we should get back on track and focus on delivering tax relief for those that need it the most. There is plenty we can put on the January ballot (portability, new/recent homeowner relief, TPP, affordable housing) that will be meaningful and, most importantly, that will garner 60% at the polls. The remaining issues can be saved for regular session. I really believe that the bill we are about to vote on would likely fail if put on the ballot even if it could pass the legislature."

Florida House Speaker Rubio took the email as Democrats as not supporting the amendment. Gelber emailed Rubio and told him he would talk to his caucas. Turns out Rubio was correct. No deal.

The wonkish details about how the Save Our Homes amendment would effect local budgets is valid. Rubio rammed the last property tax amendment it was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Charles Francis. Rubio is more concerned about his own agenda then being fiscally responsible. The Democrats have finally put him in check.

Side note: state legislatures vote for bills and other measures without any concept of what they're voting for. Many state representatives don't even read the bills. It's all too common. It's good that the Democrats want to know what they are actually voting for.

Update: one of the snags is portability. Businesses are not happy about paying a bigger share of the property tax burden.

Portability would let a homestead property owner transfer savings under Save Our Homes to a new primary residence.

The savings is the difference between the just value -- the property appraiser's estimate of market value -- and the assessed value.

But the idea has been dogged by questions about whether it would exacerbate existing inequities that force non-homestead properties like businesses to shoulder disproportionate tax burdens and whether it would withstand court challenge.

People can live next door and have homes valid at the same price. One owner could pay more taxes because the other got a deductability from moving from his previous resident. The inequities question is interesting. Lawyers could argue it's not a fair tax. I have refered to it as the Rush Limbaugh taxcut.

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At October 17, 2007 10:47 AM , Blogger Vox Populi said...

Rubio was obvious coming down the pike. The dark opie of the plan.


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