Voters will get to decide in January whether to phase out Save Our Homes in favor of a massive new homestead exemption, after the Republican-controlled Florida House muscled the sweeping ballot measure through on a party-line vote.
The 74-43 vote in the House follows similarly partisan approval in the Senate earlier this afternoon, and it marks the finale of a three-day special session on property taxes.
"This is the biggest tax cut in the history of the state, and it's aimed squarely at the middle class," said Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
Republicans billed the amendment as the centerpiece of an historic, $32 billion tax cut and a way to make Florida's property-tax structure fairer to all property owners. Democrats warned it could devastate the state's public school system and makes homeowners to play a high-stakes game of "deal or no deal" with their homes by forcing them to decide between Save Our Homes and the super-exemption.
The battle turned ugly on the House floor when Republican leaders used a procedural maneuver to cut off debate and prevent a vote on a change sought by Democrats that would have required future Legislatures to make up any money lost to schools by the tax cuts. "You're hiding under your a desk from a vote," an angry House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-MiamiBeach, told Republican legislators. Rep. Franklin Sands, a Weston Democrat in line to succeed Gelber as Democratic leader, called the move "cowardly."
Of course, an even bigger hurdle for the constitutional amendment now looms. At least 60 percent of voters will have to approve it come January for the measure to take effect.
by Jason Garcia
Jeffrey G. Funk, P.A.
Realty Executives Central Florida
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