Feb 26, 2021 - News

Florida Supreme Court rejects transportation tax increase

Illustration of a "no parking" sign with a dollar sign crossed out instead of a P.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Florida Supreme Court struck down the voter-approved one-cent sales tax passed in 2018 by Hillsborough County residents.

The state of play: The 4-1 ruling declared that the tax's "spending directives are unconstitutional in that they conflict with a state law that gives the county commission the authority to allocate such funds." The decision is a blow to transportation progress.

  • The revenue was to be split between the county's transit authority and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City to fix roads and improve mass transit, bus service and transportation safety.
  • The Metropolitan Planning Organization was to use 1% of the revenue for oversight and planning.
  • All for Transportation, a citizens group, created the language for the measure.

What they're saying: "Today’s infamous ruling is an insult to Hillsborough County voters that will worsen our transportation crisis," All for Transportation co-chair Tyler Hudson told the Tampa Bay Times

  • "As Hillsborough County continues to grow, the court’s ruling deprives residents of the necessary transportation investment that they voted for two years ago."

What's next: Figuring out what happens to the more than $472 million raised by the tax so far.

  • The court didn't say what should happen to that money, which has gone unspent as the legal challenge — first filed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White in late 2018 — played itself out.
  • Advocates for the tax have already started to argue for a replacement measure to be put on the ballot in 2022.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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