Property-tax reform must wait for special session

Article Courtesy of Palm Beach Post

By Michael C. Bender and Dara Kam
Published May 2, 2007


TALLAHASSEE Florida legislative leaders announced today that property tax reform will not be accomplished by Friday and lawmakers will instead return for a special session in June.

"We feel enough progress has been made that we're confident that will happen," said House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami. "Special session is supposed to be for special issues. This is a special issue."

Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt both halted debate in their respective chamber just before noon to announce the session, which would happen from June 5 to 15.

"We do not have the luxury of coming back here and doing a glitch bill," Pruitt said. "The issue it too important to our state and to our taxpayers to give them a product they would not be proud of."

Lawmakers identified property tax reform as their top issue for the legislative session, which ends Friday.

But philosophical differences in how to accomplish that reform prevented the House and Senate from finding common ground.

Rubio and House leaders wanted to eliminate taxes on primary homes with a sales tax increase, while Senate leaders wanted to focus on expanding current assessment exemptions and caps.

But Rubio said leaders were close enough to announce a special session in order to provide relief this year.

"We would not ask you to make reservations unless we were confident that we would come up with something that would pass," Rubio said.