On Monday afternoon, the House and Senate property tax conferees held their first joint conference meeting. The tone of that meeting was one of cooperation and collegiality. Chairman Dean Cannon expressed the House goals to meet several "savings" thresholds -- $1200 for homestead property owners, $750 for non-homestead residential and $3300 for commercial property. To that end, he presented the first offer, which, essentially, included agreeing on several "non-controversial" items that both the House and Senate had included in their original property tax plans.
Since that first meeting, the House and Senate have not been able to agree on much. The Senate has indicated that they simply want to concentrate on rollbacks and caps, and not the constitutional issues. The Senate has suggested that they have no problems "bumping" those constitutional issues to the presiding officers. Of course, the House has interpreted the Senate message to mean that it is not truly a conference, since not all issues are on the table. That interpretation caused the House to reiterate their position that they will not accept a simple rollback and cap approach as they do not believe it addresses all of the inequities in Florida's property tax system. You must account for an additional new dynamic in the mix -- Governor Crist said publicly today that he does not support the House sales tax plan.
Which brings us to this evening...... At 6:00, the conferees met again, and the Senate was to propose an offer. The Senate's offer was basically, a somewhat modified, presentation of their rollback and cap plan. Chairman Cannon basically reiterated the House position on inequities in the system and ended the meeting abruptly.
To put it simply, they are not making much progress in the conference. There are, of course, rumors of a special session which would take place the week of May 14. The conferees have until Thursday to agree on what they can and "bump" the unresolved issues to the presiding officers. Time is most certainly running out as the clock continues to click toward day 60.
Conferees did not set a meeting time for tomorrow, however, we would expect them to get together sometime around noon and again at 6:00 PM. We will keep you posted as this continues to develop. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or if you would like additional information. Stay tuned.
Additionally, for those who don't know, a list of the conferees is below.
Senate Conferees: Senator Mike Haridopolos, Senator Jeff Atwater, Senator Lisa Carlton, Senator Ted Deutch, Senator Steve Geller, Senator Ronda Storms, Senator Dan Webster
House Conferees: Representative Dean Cannon, Representative Thad Altman, Representative Frank Attkisson, Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff, Representative Don Brown, Representative Joyce Cusack, Representative Anitere Flores, Representative Luis Garcia, Representative Dan Gelber, Representative Michael Grant, Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Representative Dave Murzin, Representative Michael Scionti, Representative Jack Seiler, Representative Will Weatherford