YES to Amendment 11, Which Would Allow Poor Seniors to Stay Independent Longer
Around the State
While voters continue studying candidate proposals, it is also important to remember that the constitutional amendments on November’s ballot deserve careful consideration. These policy decisions facing voters have the potential to provide real relief to Floridians around our state while we continue toward recovery.
While the discussion around our economic recovery centers on expanding jobs across the state, we also must remember our responsibility to the seniors in our community who have left the work force. Amendment 11, which I was proud to sponsor in the Legislature, offers Florida’s seniors assistance at a time when they need it most.
Amendment 11 gives counties and municipalities the flexibility to grant a full homestead tax exemption for certain low-income seniors. This homestead exemption applies to seniors who have had title and maintained residency for at least 25 years in a property with a current fair market value of less than $250,000. In addition, the owner’s annual household income must be less than $27,030.
Many seniors around our state who live on fixed incomes have faced significant cost of living increases over the past few years. Property insurance continues to rise, the cost of a gallon of gas continues to rise, food prices continue to rise, and medical costs continue to rise, forcing many seniors in our state to spend through savings they thought would last for years to come.
Many seniors living off Social Security and perhaps a small pension have worked hard over the years to make ends meet. These seniors have been a part of our communities for more than 25 years and I believe they should never be forced to choose between paying for food and medicine or their property tax or have to face losing their home to foreclosure.
Losing their home can be the beginning of a series of changes in the lives of Florida’s seniors that can lead to unnecessary placements in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Keeping seniors in their homes as they age is best for them, their family, and their community.
The economic downturn has hurt many in our state; however, we must never forget our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our society. While I understand counties and cities are facing difficult budgets, Amendment 11 gives them the option to offer this exemption to seniors in their area.
Amendment 11 offers a big impact to our low-income seniors at a fairly small price to our counties and cities. Florida’s low-income seniors deserve the opportunity to age in the home they have built for over 25 years. I ask you to join me in standing up for our seniors by voting "Yes" on Amendment 11 and giving them that opportunity.
State Sen. René García, R-Hialeah, represents District 40.