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Rubio halfheartedly backs tax proposal
He says it fails to offer enough savings but that he'll vote for it anyway.
Published December 13, 2007
WEST PALM BEACH - The proposed property tax amendment on January's ballot doesn't offer enough savings, House Speaker Marco Rubio said Tuesday, but he said he'll vote for it anyway and work on a plan to improve it.
"This is about getting more money in people's pockets so they can go out and spend it and generate economic activity, and Jan. 29 is not going to do that," Rubio said after addressing Florida TaxWatch, a business-backed budgetary research group.
A recent estimate of the impact of the proposed state constitutional amendment shows primary homeowners who stay put will save an average of $240 a year. A five-year overall savings of $9.2-billion is also estimated.
Tax-cut advocates have criticized the proposal, saying the savings for homeowners are too small to justify the resulting reductions in public services.
But Rubio, R-West Miami, said the amendment is better than nothing.
"I think tax cuts are hard to get, and any time you get a chance to make one happen, you should take the opportunity, but I don't want to give anyone the impression that this solves the problem," he said.
Rubio sees it as a starting point and, if the environment is right, he said he'll pursue the issue again legislatively.
TaxWatch officials said the proposal fails to remedy inequities between primary homeowners, who benefit from the existing Save Our Homes cap that limits annual assessment increases to 3 percent, and other taxpayers who lack that protection.
The amendment does include a 10 percent cap for nonhomestead properties such as businesses, second homes and rentals, but assessments rarely increase that much in a year.
The Tallahassee-based group is proposing a repeal of the 3 percent cap and not boosting the existing $25,000 homestead exemption.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp also briefly addressed the group, saying the proposed amendment would be a major boost to the real estate market, and he urged attendees to help pass it.
"Don't underestimate the power of portability," he said. "It takes the shackles off starting over with taxes."