Fla. Gubernatorial Hopefuls Crist, Davis Can’t Escape Taxes, Insurance

By | September 20, 2006

Charlie Crist and Jim Davis have a similar message.

Both candidates for governor in Florida say they want to do something about rising property taxes and homeowners insurance rates. Both also say that leading the state should be about people, and not politicians.

But as both campaigned Monday, Republican nominee Crist was talking specifics on those issues, and also making good on his promise to listen to voters.

Crist outlined plans to control rising insurance rates and talked about his ideas to lower property taxes. Democrat nominee Davis declined to discuss the specifics of his plans, then went into a private meeting with union officials.

“There are plenty of tax breaks a few people receive to the detriment of the rest of us,” Davis said. “We’ll take a look at those. I don’t have a list for you today.”

While greeting voters at an Orlando soul food restaurant, Crist asked waitress Debra Reese for her support.

“I need a direct line to you,” she told him.

“I’m going to give you my cell phone number,” Crist said before writing down the digits on a business card. “We got a deal. I’m going to fight for you.”

It’s a difference in style the two candidates have shown throughout the campaign. Davis declines to give his cell phone number to reporters, while most in the media have Crist’s number.

“I’m not Charlie. I’m a lot different,” Davis said Monday.

And that’s another thing Crist agrees on.

While talking to black supporters, Crist pointed out differences between the candidates, the first time he’s publicly made those distinctions since the Sept. 5 primary.

“I’m for lowering property taxes, my opponent’s not. That’s inconceivable to me. I think we need to double the homestead exemption, I think we need to make portable the Save Our Homes amendment — the 3 percent cap. My opponent in this race is opposed to that,” Crist said. “He thinks we ought to help government, I think we ought to help people.”

Crist also said he has plans to deal with insurance, including lowering the point at which insurance companies can tap into the state’s Catastrophe Fund and pressuring Washington lawmakers to form a similar national fund. He also wants to stop allowing national insurance companies to create independent Florida only companies.

Earlier, while flying from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, Crist criticized Davis for not offering ideas on insurance and property taxes.

“Nothing,” Crist said. “I’m trying to think of all the ideas I can to get the people relief.”

Davis said he hadn’t seen Crist’s plan. He has declined to elaborate on the specifics of his own plan several times on the campaign trail.

“I think there are some things we can do on the property tax issue. I’m looking at a few new ideas,” Davis said Monday. His staff promised specifics soon.

Before the primary, Davis held a series of meetings with homeowners and outlined a plan based on their concerns, but he has yet to present it to a broader audience since winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The plan, outlined on his Web site, calls for a state policyholder advocate, audits of the state’s insurer-of-last-resort and forcing insurers to give at least one year’s notice before dropping customers who have made no claims for three years.

He also blames rising property taxes on Republican leadership in Tallahassee giving tax breaks that help few instead of providing enough money to municipalities.

“I’ve been saying this for months. The state has been balancing the budget on the back of the local property owners. I will end that and that will have an immediate impact in terms of local government’s ability to lower property taxes,” Davis said.


Associated Press writer Phil Davis in Tampa contributed to this report.

Topics Property

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