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House passes DOA tax cap and 1.35 % to Senate

     With a wink and nod, the House approved two proposed constitutional amendments Wednesday to ask voters to drastically cut taxes in Florida knowing that they won’t get the necessary approval this session from a reluctant Senate that wants to wait until the billions of tax cuts made last year first take effect.

    The House voted 79-38 along party lines and sent to the Senate a proposal to cap all property taxes at 1.35 percent and another to cap all government revenue with a formula that ties growth to population and inflation.

     Democratic leaders blasted the moves as sound-bite politics. They complained that House Republicans made no attempt to protect education funding from billions in cuts or quantify the lost government services that will result.

    Almost as recognition to its dead-on-arrival fate in the Senate, the House approved the tax revenue cap without debate. The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission rejected a similar cap last week, when it couldn’t muster the votes to get the measure through the 25-member panel.

     The House debated at length, however, the plan to put a flat 1.35 percent cap on all property taxes, the exact language of a similar citizen petition that supporters hope to put on the 2010 ballot. House Speaker Marco Rubio said his priority this session would be to pass the 1.35 percent idea through the House but acknowledge it may not go beyond that.

     He and other supporters say change isneeded because of a “property tax” crisis but none of them ever acknowledged that soaring property values, which benefit property owners' net worth statements was the first culprit.

    "I didn't know providing property tax relief was a policial ploy,'' said Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the House sponsor. "I thought it was doing our job...And whether we like it or not members this is going to get on the ballot – in 2010.''