Florida Politics | By Gray Rohrer | February 28, 2022
‘Are we just passing this $50,000 on to the counties — are they just suffering this loss?’
A proposed $81 million property tax cut for teachers, first responders, military members and child welfare professionals is headed to the Senate floor after the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the legislation Monday.
The changes come in a pair of bills (HJR 1, HB 1563). The first places an amendment on the ballot in November to grant another $50,000 homestead property tax exemption to select groups of workers. The second bill implements the measure if 60% of voters approve of it, starting Jan. 1, 2023.
Both bills passed the House last week unanimously, but received some questions Monday from the Senate panel about how it would affect smaller counties.
“Are we just passing this $50,000 on to the counties — are they just suffering this loss?” asked Sen. George Gainer, a Panama City Republican.
Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican ushering the bill in the Senate, noted HB 1563 provides $4.6 million to “fiscally constrained counties” with smaller property tax bases that would feel larger impacts from the bills.
Another member, Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said he opposed the bill because it doesn’t help people who don’t own homes already.
“I like the concept. I like the idea. I support our police, our firefighters, our teachers,” Powell said. “However, the problem here in the state of Florida is it’s becoming more and more difficult to afford a home. … I find it a little bit difficult for me to vote for an exemption for people who already own homes.”
In current law, all homestead properties are exempt from the first $25,000 of value in property tax assessments, and from non-school taxes on the value of the property from $50,000 to $75,000. The bill would make the value of a homestead property from $100,000 to $150,000 exempt from non-school taxes.
The measure would save eligible homeowners — and cost local governments — $81 million in the first year and up to $93.6 million by the 2026-2027 fiscal year.
Law enforcement groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police and the Florida Police Chiefs Association support the bill, which has received bipartisan support in every committee.
The lone opposing voice to the bills has come from Florida Association of Counties lobbyist Bob McKee, who has noted the tax cut wouldn’t help teachers and first responders who didn’t own property or those who own property valued at less than $100,000.
The bills now head to the Senate floor for a full vote of the chamber.