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House passes increased homestead exemption measure

Voters next year could decide whether to approve a measure that would amount to a reduction in their property tax.

The House on Wednesday passed a measure (HJR 7105) on a 81-35 vote to increase the current $25,000 homestead exemption.

The language “increas(es) the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property greater than $75,000 and up to $100,000,” it says.

Democrats, however, warned that cutting taxes meant less money to fund critical local services like police and fire. It wouldn’t affect taxes to fund local public schools.

“If you vote for this, you vote for digging your own hole,” said Rep. John Cortes, a Kissimmee Democrat.

But Rep. Al Jacquet, a Lantana Democrat, a co-sponsor, mentioned all it does is pose the question to voters in the form of a ballot question.

The “Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption” would require a constitutional amendment, which requires 60 percent of statewide voters to approve.

“This is to allow our constituents to make their own decision,” Jacquet said. “Do we trust our constituents enough to make their own decisions; that’s all we’re doing here today.

“If you don’t believe they’re smart enough, vote ‘no’ today,” he added. “… The folks on whose backs we balance our books deserve a break. But let’s put it on the ballot (and) let them decide.”

Bill sponsor Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican, told House members he recognized it was “a tough decision.”

But, he added, “not one constituent has said to me this is a bad idea.” A similar Senate measure (SJR 1774) was last acted on last month.

 

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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