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Florida House Dem leader open to sales tax increase to pay for property tax cut

Florida House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders said he could support a sales tax increase to help pay for a property tax cut that Republican Gov. Rick Scott is pushing.

"It's something we should look at," Saunders told reporters at the annual Associated Press pre-session meeting today. "I'm not in favor of any tax increases. If the governor can find a way to pay for replacing those property tax dollars with general revenue dollars, great. But if he can't, I think it's something we should look at. Because for one thing, tourists pay sales tax and the don't pay property taxes."

A sales tax swap, like the one U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio supported when he was House speaker, is unlikely to resurface in Scott's budget recommendation, due Feb. 4.

But Saunders said it was unrealistic that Scott's property tax cut, already being questioned by Republican Senate President Mike Haridopolos, could be paid for while the state's budget shortfall is approaching $4 billion.

"You've got to give the governor the benefit of the doubt and say let's see his proposal unlike past years when Gov. Crist's proposals were thrown right in the trash," Saunders said.