Black Tuesday in Florida!

Black Tuesday in Florida!
This morning (February 1, 2008) the Miami Herald trumpets that “Crist Budget May Lead to Tax Hike”  . Was it not only last Tuesday that Governor Crist (you know the one who promised Floridians that taxes and insurance will drop like a rock) promised that a YES on Amendment 1 will reduce Floridians’ property taxes by $230? The paper goes on to say that “The governor’s budget also relies on a $337.8 million increase in local property tax revenue collections. School districts can make up that money if there is natural growth in property assessments because of rising property values. But if property values and revenues fall, districts might have to raise the tax rate to make up the difference.” Expecting property values to increase in Florida, shows you how disconnected Florida’s politicians are from reality!
Well, January 29 will go down in Florida’s history as Black Tuesday. Led by the cheerleading of Governor Crist, 64% of Florida’s voters passed Amendment 1 on property taxes to Florida’s Constitution.
What were they thinking when they went in that voting booth and voted YES on this amendment???
They clearly could not have told themselves that the Governor promised them $230 or so property tax reduction if they vote yes, and damn everything and everyone else?!?
They clearly didn’t consider that:
-their children and grandchildren living in Florida will still not be able to buy a home because the oldest homesteaders of Florida refuse to pay their fair share for the services that they use -Florida’s renters, often the poorest and youngest, who can’t afford to buy a home, pay the exorbitant discriminatory property taxes so longest standing homesteaders can continue to have their neighbours pay for their services -Florida’s wealthiest and oldest homesteaders are the largest beneficiaries of the current Save-Our-Homes property tax system (often to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars per year) -prospective out-of-state property owners are unlikely to choose to buy in Florida when they are forced to pay 3-10x the property taxes paid by their homesteaded neighbours in identical properties -young families are leaving and retirees are not buying, so how is Amendment 1 going to revive property values in Florida -Save-Our-Homes is the root cause of out-of-control spending by Florida’s Cities and Counties, as homesteaded voters are unaware or don’t care about expenditure increases since the non-homesteaded pay the shot. So those who vote (and could constrain expenditure increases) don’t care, and those who pay can’t vote! -even if Amendment 1 increases homestead exemption, the taxing authorities, who got used to annual 15-20% increases in budgets, will increase mil rates so as to continue to gorge themselves at taxpayers’ expense -already the constitutionality of Save-Our-Homes is being challenged and that adding portability to it further increases the probability that the courts will find SOH unconstitutional.
So where do we go from here? I only see two viable options on the table at this time: 1. Throw your weight behind the constitutional challenges to Save-Our-Homes. Sign a petition to have your home state (or country) Attorney General file an Amicus Brief in support of the constitutional challenge(s). There are number of these in the works, and you can sign up. 2. Look for what direction the “1.35% tax cap” advocates at Cut Property Taxes Now  group is heading to next. While they appear not to have been able to collect the full 611,000 signatures to get the petition on the next November ballot, they have succeeded in unifying a lot of the property tax reform groups. They are continuing to collect signatures in order to put pressure on Florida legislators and the TBRC (Florida Taxation and Bdget Reform Commission).
Good luck to everyone who has a stake in the future of Florida!

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