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Lawmaker pitches school tax swap

Cash-strapped school districts may soon have an alternative to the property tax revenue that funds construction and maintenance.

A House panel on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow Florida school boards to levy a half-penny sales tax in exchange for a reduction in school property taxes. The revenue could only be used for capital projects.

If the law were to pass, school boards would have to put the tax swap on a countywide ballot, and a majority of voters would have to approve it.

Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican sponsoring the bill in the House, said the sales tax would provide "a steadier, more predictable revenue stream for the school districts, while providing some tax relief for the voters."

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