House Democratic Leader Rep. Dan Gelber on Friday asked House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt to use the more than $400 million from budget vetoes to cut school property taxes. In his letter, Gelber writes: "This is the only part of local property bills that we control and we believe it was wholly irresponsible to increase the state imposed local property tax by almost $4 billion over the last 8 years. This appropriation is a good down payment on our efforts to reverse this trend."
Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday slashed "$459 million" from the budget, but Crist's math includes money that isn't even in state hands. Part of the $459 million total includes the 5 percent tuition hikes for community colleges and universities.
An additional wrinkle: Most of the money Crist vetoed comes out of trust funds and is not recurring general revenue, meaning it won't be there next year. But local property taxes are used for day-to-day expenses.
Gelber concedes the limitations on the money, but he says there is enough in state reserves to begin reducing property taxes: "We can't keep balancing education on the backs of homeowners."