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Agree to disagree

One day after Senate Democrats unveiled their plan for property relief, the proposal took a little friendly fire at the Senate’s weekly Democratic Caucus meeting.

One Democratic senator questioned whether the average homeowner would understand how they would benefit from the plan. Another suggested the proposal focused too much on taxes and too little on cutting local government spending.

But the main target: a proposal to increase the Save Our Homes cap to allow homeowners to take some of their existing tax savings with them when they move to a new home.

The current Save Our Homes amendment caps the increased in property assessments at 3 percent a year. The Senate Democrat plan would increase that cap to 6 percent.

Sen. Steve Geller, Senate Minority Leader, explained the increase is necessary to make the "portability" of tax savings immune from constitutional challenge.

Senate Republicans, including Sen. Mike Haridopolos, of Melbourne, already have questioned the Democratic proposal. They say they are opposed to the short-term tax increase that would result from increasing the Save Our Homes cap. And today a couple Senate democrats joined the chorus.

Sen. Dave Aronberg, of Greenacres, called the tax increase "a political risk," adding that it's "going to be difficult to sell."

And Geller spent much of the one-hour meeting trying to explain why the increase was necessary.

"Check into it yourself," Geller told Aronberg. "But do me the favor of checking into it instead of just questioning it.

Geller added that the plan is "a work in progress."

But with homeowners around the state trapped in their homes, Sen. Tony Hill, of Jacksonville, was willing to fight for a portable Homestead exemption, even if it meant rallying public support in a referendum petition drive.

"If you take portability off, I'm going to be out there collecting signatures," Hill said.