Florida bill would tax vehicle rentals for road improvements

| 5/1/2006

A group of Florida lawmakers are calling for a new funding source to help pay for transportation work – and they aren’t focused on the wallets of truck drivers.

The central Florida delegation and others from counties in the southern part of the state are pursuing a $2-per-day increase on the cost of rental vehicles. They say it would raise as much as $40 million annually.

The measure won unanimous consent in the Senate Transportation Committee earlier this month. If approved by lawmakers, counties throughout the state would be allowed to vote on the higher fee. Revenue would be used for local transportation projects.

Supporters say gridlocked regions in the state are being cheated out of transportation funding because many of the people who rent vehicles aren’t accounted for when highway funds are distributed, The Associated Press reported.

Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Park, said formulas for determining how much an area gets for road and bridge work is based on population – but doesn’t figure in the half million tourists on Orlando’s roadways on any given day.

Opponents, however, say it’s not just tourists who rent vehicles. They say local residents and businesses also would be hit with the additional fee.

Webster told The AP he would consider adding provisions to his bill that would exempt some rentals from local residents and businesses.

The bill – S2632 – has been forwarded to the Senate floor for consideration. A similar effort is under consideration in the House.