Property Tax Advice for Florida Lawmakers: "Step back and Cool Off."


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As Florida lawmakers totter toward the May 4 conclusion of this year's legislative session, conferees are feeling growing pressure to come up with a solution-- any solution-- for the state's property tax woes. Yet, as the Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board points out, there are good reasons to resist this urge:
The best course of action for Floridians is none at all. The constitutionally mandated Taxation and Budget Reform Commission starts a comprehensive review of all taxes this year. There's no reason for the Legislature to push bad legislation forward, and plenty of reasons to step back and cool off.
Regarding the specific shortcomings of the plans put forth by the House and Senate so far, the News-Journal faults the Senate proposal for expanding the much-lamented "Save Our Homes" tax break rather than repealing it, but thinks the House plan is much worse:
The sales-tax swap is a bare-faced shift of tax burden onto the shoulders of low-income Floridians, and an even more blatant picking of city and county government pockets. (House leaders claim they plan to redistribute the money to local governments, but lawmakers also promised several years ago to stop hitting local governments with unfunded mandates, a pledge broken almost immediately.)
All told, the House measure would carve as much as $47 billion from local governments' coffers. It's money most can't afford to lose and still keep providing services demanded by city and county residents.
This is all dead on. None of the plans currently on the table achieve the sort of meaningful reform that Florida really needs. If Florida property taxes are to "drop like a rock," as the Governor has requested, it should be done in a way that eliminates inequities in the current property tax and doesn't leave locals holding the bag.

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