From: Ulvert, Christian []
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:13 AM
To: Ulvert, Christian
Subject: ***Letter from House Democratic Leader to Legislative Leaders of Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Reform

TO:        Interested Media and Parties
FROM:   Christian Ulvert, House Democratic Caucus Communications Director
RE:        Letter to Legislative Leaders of Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Relief and Reform
DATE:    May 24, 2007
Please find attached and below a letter House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) sent yesterday afternoon to Sen. Mike Haridopolos and Rep. Dean Cannon concerning property tax relief proposals and the upcoming special session.
***Letter to Sen. Haridopolos and Rep. Cannon below***

May 23, 2007


Dear Senator Mike Haridopolos and Representative Dean Cannon:


While I appreciate that there has been movement toward tax relief, I remain concerned that we will not satisfactorily address the many complexities of this issue in sufficient time to properly address them in the upcoming Special Session. At this juncture, all we have is a very vague agreement that "super-exemptions" for homestead property is the preferred approach.  While my caucus is obviously in agreement with this approach, the property tax crisis has numerous interlocking pieces, and if we are to address it both meaningfully and responsibly we need to do more than generally agree on only one aspect of its many faces.


I would recommend, therefore, that the agenda for our June 4 meeting have the goal of producing a specific and comprehensive framework that addresses a greater range of issues implicated by this task.  I think it equally important that we give the many stakeholders especially property owners and homeowners, but also local government officials the chance to comment and critique our direction in the weeks preceding the special session. Further, our committee should review the budgets of a good sample of affected taxing entities to determine more precisely how the proposal would impact citizens.


Finally, we need to begin to apprehend the costs and consequences of each of these issues as they obviously interrelate.  For instance, it makes little sense to discuss how much homestead tax relief we want to deliver without considering what we intend to deliver to Florida's business community and to renters. Or if we "grandfather" in Save Our Homes, what kind of assessment cap, or revenue limiter, is available to protect property owners from future excessive increases. Clearly, we can't solve one face of this Rubik's cube and then worry about resolving the remaining sides.


Consistent with this suggestion, what follows is a list of the issues that we believe need to be addressed at our June 4 meeting. I would add that attached is the House Democratic tax relief and reform package which attempted to address all of these issues in a fairly detailed way.



Issues that Need to Be Addressed:


                    I.      Method and amount of Homestead Property Tax Relief

                 II.      Method and amount of Non-Homestead, Residential Property Tax Relief, Including Renters

               III.      Method and amount of Commercial Property Tax Relief

              IV.      State & Local Government Revenue Controls

                 V.      Save Our Homes Limitations

              VI.      Portability for Homestead Property

            VII.      Assessment Limitation on Real Property

         VIII.      Whether to include exemptions or mitigation for Fiscally Constrained Counties and Cities, Special Taxing Districts, Education Funds


Our hope is that at the conclusion of our next meeting, we will have sufficiently addressed these topics and produced a specific framework that will provide a basis through which to receive input and information.  I would repeat my request that we seek an impact conference from the Revenue Estimating Conference on some of these proposals. Furthermore, I believe we should also request that Florida TaxWatch conduct an econometric model study of final proposals. The model, which would be prepared in collaboration with the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University, can measure both short-term and long-term effects of changes in property taxes under different scenarios according to TaxWatch.


I commend you for your efforts. I do believe, however, that this is not one of those issues that is best resolved in private, or at the rushed end of a Special Session. Ultimately, if we do not craft a proposal that is structurally sound and can easily muster 60% approval on election day, we will have done an incredible disservice to our citizens who will be without tax relief for yet another year.


Thank you for your service.




Dan Gelber

Democratic Leader



Cc:       Honorable Charlie Crist, Governor

Honorable Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer

Honorable Charles Bronson, Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Honorable Bill McCollum, Attorney General

            Honorable Ken Pruitt, Senate President

Honorable Marco Rubio, Speaker of the House

            Honorable Daniel Webster, Senate Majority Leader     

            Honorable Steve Geller, Senate Democratic Leader



Christian B. Ulvert
Communications Director
House Democratic Caucus
Florida House of Representatives
(850) 488-9622 office
(850) 559-2778 cell
(850) 488-5912 fax
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