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Tax-swapping amendment 5 knocked off ballot. For now

Circuit Judge John C. Cooper just threw the tax-swap plan off the ballot, saying the ballot title and summary were misleading. It's not much of a shock, considering Cooper's line of questioning yesterday. More here on that.

Download taxrule.pdf

To sum up: Cooper said the ballot language didn't tell voters that education money would be "held harmless" for just one year, while the state-set school property tax would be eliminated forever.

The father of the amendment, former Senate President John McKay, who pushed the measure through the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission after years of trying to reform Florida's tax system, vowed to appeal. He said Cooper's ruling came as no real surprise, considering the number of times he has been in court fighting for tax reform.

"I have yet to figure out the justice system," McKay said. "A judge can seem to lean one way but rule another. If the courts rule in our favor, great. If not, we'll appeal."

What was the biggest problem?

"The problem is the judge really didn't understand education funding," McKay said.

But the opponents of the measure, the Coalition (of 30 lobby groups) to Protect Florida's Economy said the judge got it just right.

"I was very pleased with the way the arguments went yesterday and felt Judge Cooper had a firm understanding of the issues.  Unfortunately for them, opposing counsel's arguments fell short," coalition attorney Barry Richard said in a written statement.

Now the Florida Chamber of Commerce wants a special lawmaking session on property taxes. Apparently, the three previous high-tension sessions on the issue and the Legislature's failure to please anyone just weren't enough. But at least it's an election year. There's no way politics would get worse then. Download chamber.pdf