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Crist hugs Pruitt and showers praise on lawmakers

House members may have expressed frustration about the final tax plan adopted today _ but at a post-session press conference Gov. Charlie Crist was upbeat and showered effusive praise on Senate President Ken Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio for their work on property taxes.

He hugged Pruitt twice and asked Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster to "say something brilliant." Crist said he was happy both Democrats and Republicans voted for the amendment that will now go before voters on Jan. 29th, saying people did not send them to Tallahassee to "bicker."

While a phalanx of top senators showed up at the press conference, top House leaders did not show. The two House members in attendance were Rep. Peter Nehr and Rep. Eddy Gonzalez.

"What happened today was historic and truly important to the people,'' said Crist.

"This is a $12 billion property tax cut....That's getting close to something larger than a pebble,'' a reference to a crack made by Sen. Jim King this past summer after Crist had promised to make property taxes "drop like a rock."

When asked later if he regretted saying "drop like a rock," Crist replied "$27 billion sounds like a rock to me, but it's really for the people to decide. It doesn't matter what I think. It's not about me. It's not about my quotes. It's not about any of that." (The $27 billion figure is based on a combination of today's amendment _ which depends on how many people choose to transfer savings from existing homes to new homes _ and an estimate of how much the mandatory rollbacks will save over a few years.)

And despite Rubio saying he doubts lawmakers will do anything more on property taxes during their regular session, Crist promised that he is not yet done on cutting taxes.

"Does life stop on Jan. 29th?'' Crist asked. "I hope, with the grace of god, it doesn't. But we'll keep going."