Davis Unveils Plan for $1 Billion Property Tax Cut
Democratic nominee for governor Jim Davis today unveiled his "Contract with Florida Taxpayers," promising to reduce property taxes in Florida by $1 billion next year - without cutting funding for schools. Davis's proposal represents a significant departure from the current policies that have nearly doubled the amount of state-mandated property taxes that the politicians in Tallahassee have forced onto homeowners and small business owners since 1999.
"For too long, the politicians in Tallahassee have been passing the buck to local governments and doling out special interest tax breaks, while increasing the burden on property owners across Florida," said Davis. "Charlie Crist's plan to expand these current policies would make our property tax system even more unfair and do nothing to reduce the tax burden on renters and business owners."
Since 1999, the state-mandated property tax burden has nearly doubled from $4.28 billion to $8.36 billion. Davis will reduce that burden by $1 billion next year, will place a 10% cap on property tax increases for non-homestead property, will veto any unfunded mandates and will increase fairness in the property tax law by ending abuse of the Greenbelt Law by big developers.
"Too many small business owners trying to make a living and too many families trying to pay the bills are struggling under the same property tax policies that Charlie Crist wants to expand," said Davis. "I believe we need to change our system and reduce property taxes for working families and small businesses, so we can build a stronger Florida."
Davis's Republican opponent, Charlie Crist, has proposed doubling the homestead exemption and giving "portability" to some homeowners. Despite immediate concerns about rising property taxes, Crist's plan would not take effect until 2010. Many Republicans, including Gov. Bush, said they don't support Crist's proposals because they increase inequities in the system and offer no relief to renters and business owners.
"Republicans and Democrats agree on two things: we need property tax reform in Florida and Charlie Crist's plan would make a bad system worse," said Davis. "I have a plan to reduce property taxes by $1 billion next year and bring relief to every Floridian who is struggling with higher property taxes - including renters and small business owners."
Larry Fuchs, a budget official in both the Chiles and Bush administrations, said the plan would increase fairness for local property owners and restore fiscal responsibility to the state budget.
"I applaud a plan that offers immediate property tax relief for all Floridians, including renters and business owners, while shifting the education funding burden back to the state, instead of relying so heavily on Florida property owners," said Fuchs. "I also support proposals from Republican and Democratic leaders to take a hard look at sales tax exemptions as well as the advisability of tax cuts targeted for the wealthy and special interests. I am in favor of any effort to restore fiscal responsibility to the state budget."