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Final tax swap vote narrows but it goes to ballot

Saying the proposal is far from perfect, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission voted 18-7 to ask voters to replace the required property taxes that pay for schools with new revenues including increased and expanded sales taxes.

After three members -- Susan Story, Brian Yablonski and Mike Hogan -- reversed their position from the first vote three weeks ago, the panel decided to put it on the ballot.

Commisisoner Roberto Martinez said the proposal was far from perfect but added, "If we don't vote this out, I don't think we will just disappoint the people. I think we will fail the people. I think people want to have an opportunity to vote for a property tax proposal and while this is far from perfect, it is the best and wisest proposal we can present to the people.''

John McKay, author of the proposal, said it was time to replace the state's antiquated tax system "with a more stable tax system. The current system is ill-siuted to meet our needs for the next 20 years.''

He said one of the two economists hired by the commission predicted that with the simple vote of the people, it will generate $80 billion of wealth in Florida. "not only a property tax cut it is a tax cut for all Floridaisn and yet you're still holding educaiton harmless.''

Story said her big concern was that this could lead to a services tax, imposed by a legislature with no where else to go to replace the estimated $9 billion for schools. She said that will shut down small businesses. "I would love to have property tax relif but I am very concerned,'' she said. "It's one thing to have relief, but it's another thing not to have a job.''